Monday, 10 August 2015

Vincent Simmons: Words from an Angola Prison cell

Monday, August 10, 2015. Louisiana State Prison, Angola, LA. 3:36 pm. Today is 13,958 days since Vincent Simmons was unlawfully arrested on a quiet street in Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.

An innocent man, convicted of a rape he did not commit in 1977, is still behind bars nearly forty years later. Read the full story of this unbelievable miscarriage of justice here.

Below, Vincent Simmons relates, in his own words, exactly what happened to him on the fateful day he was walking down a street in Marksville.

Why was he stopped and arrested? Was he armed? No. Was he walking down the street equipped to carry out a crime? No. Was he disrespectful or aggressive to the officer who stopped him? No. Was he wanted for any crime, anywhere in the United States? No. The simple truth is that Vincent Simmons was arrested because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and, of course, he was black.

"My name is Vincent Alfred Simmons Jr. I am a black Afro-American. I am from a small town called Monsuro, Louisiana. I am innocent of the charges I was falsely arrested, charged, indicted, tried and convicted for.
On May 23rd, 1977, I was arrested in the town of Marksville, Parish of Avoyelles, State of Louisiana. I was placed in handcuffs, put in a police car and taken to Avoyelles Parish jail. Upon arriving there, I was taken to a physical lineup.
Vincent Simmons #4 - still in handcuffs!
According to the police, I was allegedly identified as a rapist. I was taken to another section of the jail, to this detective office. 
Upon arriving there, I was told by the two arresting officers that I was going to give them how I committed the crime. I told them I was not giving any statement because I didn't rape anybody.
Still in handcuffs one of the police officers hit me and knocked me to the floor and commenced to kick me. I managed to get back to my feet, and was asked if I was ready to talk. I again refused. This officer then grabbed me and I grabbed him and held him in an attempt to shield myself from further assaults. This officer's partner, who was in the room with us, called out to his partner to move.
I was pushed against the wall and when I looked up after balancing myself, I was looking down the barrel of a gun. I heard the shot and felt a burning in my chest. The shock I experienced I will never forget. I hit the floor, hollering for water to put out the fire burning in my chest.
I prayed to God not to let me die like this. I experienced my soul traveling out of my body. When I re-entered my body I was laying in a hospital room where my mother and a Catholic priest was sitting praying. When the police department found out I had survived they immediately came and transported me back to jail.
I remember talking to two white guys, who claimed to be lawyers appointed by the court. They asked me did I have $50,000 dollars. If so, they would represent me and free me at the preliminary hearing. 
I told them I didn't have that kind of money. They asked me if I wanted to plead guilty to the charges. I cursed them out and told them I didn't rape anybody. The next time I saw these two lawyers I was on trial.
I was still suffering from the gunshot wound in my chest. So that had a great effect on my thinking at the time. The lawyers really didn't talk to to me but once before the trial. The only evidence they had was the victims' testimony. And those testimonies were perjury lies.
I knew there was something wrong when the District Attorney, Assistant District Attorney and my Attorney made a motion to approach the bench. They all went up to the Judge's desk and talked in secret. Then when they walked away the Judge talked to all the officers' who were involved in the case, and had been called as witnesses, and they were released from subpoena duty.
I was subsequently "found guilty" by an all white jury, there was one alternate jury member who was black. Lies were told to the trial jury by the alleged victims and their cousin (Keith Laborde). The District Attorney asked each of them, do you see the person that raped you in the courtroom? Answer. Yes. Can you point him out? Answer. Yes. How do you know that this is the person who raped you? Answer. He told me/us his name was Simmons, while raping us."
(I'm sorry, I have to break into Vincent's story at this point to make a small point. While raping two young girls at gunpoint, the rapist said, "My name is Vincent Simmons. Just thought you'd like that snippet of information for future use - especially at my trial!" For those who have not read the main article, the original statement given to police two weeks after the alleged rapes contained no names. In fact, one of the girls said, "No, I don't know his name, he never mentioned it." That is a direct quote from the original police statement. Why was it not challenged in court? Why indeed. Let's go back to Vincent's statement.)
"The jury believed the perjured testimony. I was sentenced to 100 years, 50/50 on each charge. I was immediately transferred to the State Penitentiary. 
On my way to Angola, the two officers who were transporting me pulled off the road. Three separate times they tried to get me out of the car and run. 
Each time I refused to get out of the car. They gave up and drove me here to the prison.
When I arrived at the prison, I was placed in a maximum-security one-man cell. I had repeated nightmares of being beaten and shot by those police officers and I was still suffering from the bullet wound.The bullet was still in my back under the skin which consistently caused me excruciating pain. I made continued complaints to the doctors here at the prison before they removed the bullet from my back.
I continued to have severe nightmares because I knew I was innocent, I just needed to prove it. The only way I could do that was to find out what those police officers and the State District Attorneys had on me.
I started writing letters to officials requesting police reports, statements of victims, medical reports, pictures, arrest reports and warrants. Each time I submitted my request, I was denied. I read law books and continued to make requests for information, and the state repeatedly denied me the information I sought.
The years passed and I learned about the law. I then filed a suit in the court where I was convicted seeking access to that information. The court still denied me access saying I was not entitled to the information. I appealed that decision, which was again affirmed. I appealed to a higher court. Two years later that appeal was denied.
Then the prison officers began focusing in on me, moving me from one place to another. A form of distraction. I ended up in Camp J after being moved around and losing all my legal material. 
Ten years passed. I still didn't get my hands on the information.
I made another request to the District Attorneys office. That request was ignored. I then filed a law suit into the civil district court where I was convicted. The court ordered the District Attorney to show cause by December 7th, 1993. Before that date arrived, I received a big brown envelope from the State District Attorneys office.
What was in the envelope shocked me, and brought tears to my eyes. There was the following documents: 1. Investigative reports. 2. Police arrest reports. 3. Victim statements. 4. Arrest warrants. 5. Medical examiner's reports. 6. Line-up photos. 7. Bill of indictments."
(These documents are now in the public domain and can be downloaded and read as PDF's. They are available from  The Vincent Simmons Project. )
Medical report. (Click to enlarge)
"Nowhere in the victims' statements did they say the alleged rapist told them his name was Simmons.
The doctor said he found no bruises or scars and that one of the alleged victim's hymen was still intact. The other alleged victim had no bruises or scars, but she did have venereal disease.
The rapes were reported on May 22nd, 1977. Not even 24 hours later I was stopped, arrested, put in a line-up, allegedly identified, beaten, and then shot. There is no evidence connecting me to the crime, and nobody said Vincent Simmons did anything.
The police, the District Attorney and the alleged victims know that I am not the rapist. They are lying to protect the police who shot me, and that is attempted murder. They had no probable cause to even arrest me. They committed perjury at the trial. None of the police testified at the trial because they knew the truth would come out if they testified."
(What Vincent Simmons writes next could be considered to be a bad case of the "Conspiracy Theory Syndrome". But if you consider the overwhelming amount of evidence that came to light in 1993, proving beyond doubt that Vincent Simmons had nothing to do with the rape of the girls, the question remains. Why is he still in prison?)
"The two lawyers that were appointed to represent me were working with the state District Attorney to send me to prison so that they would cover up and protect what the police did to me. The Assistant Attorney that helped prosecutors in 1977 rose to become a Louisiana Supreme Court Justice. She is using her corrupted influence to keep my case from being heard.
These things are being done to people here in the deep south of Louisiana because there is nobody here to expose, fight or create laws and enforce those laws. There is nobody to punish politicians, law makers, court officials, District Attorneys or lawyers"
Vincent Simmons #85188  

Vincent Alfred Simmons Jr.
The Louisiana Whipping Boy. 

Pictures, information and statement courtesy of:

Vincent Simmons
Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, LA.

The Vincent Simmons Project