When I watched the documentary “Shadows of Doubt” and got in touch with Vincent Simmons in 2003, I would have been grateful for something like a book that analyzed his case and its background in detail. There was nothing like that. Instead, I had to run after the information I was seeking for the years to come. It was damn hard work! Now, there is such a book. If people chose to become strong activists and push the cause, they could easily do so within a week. I needed 7 years for accumulating everything and it cost me more than the book’s price of 20 $. Simmons’ supporters now only need a day or two to read the book, and theoretically, they could start from there. As we say in German: One does not have to reinvent the wheel again and again. Use the information, knowledge and experience others have gained already and go from there! But the reality looks very, very different.
I have just been notified by Facebook, because my name was marked in a FB message. I glanced over the very long “sermon” about Vincent Simmons’ case and I am very, very disappointed. Honestly, I do not understand why it is so full of disinformation although all the facts have been out there in the public in form of the book “Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish” since 2011. The book has handed out everything on a platter, including the sources. What else is needed to understand?!
But instead of doing their own research and correcting all the rumors buzzing around on the internet, wanna-be supporters (pardon me!) continue to spread untruths. The author of that certain FB message even states that Keith Laborde (the cousin of Simmons’ alleged rape victims) died in 2010! Gosh, double-check the facts before you write something like that!! Being declared dead in the lifetime is not funny. And it is very embarrassing to the creator(s) of the gossip once the truth comes out. Keith, by the way, has been the proud father of a little baby-boy (?) since last year. (I believe it is a boy.)
There are lots of Labordes, and you better do know what you are talking about, if you really want to help Simmons! Inaccuracies, rumors, or even lies are own goals and do not serve his cause. Indeed, they do undermine what others have been working for so hard. It is all about credibility. Alleged supporters who are spreading nonsense are not of any help to the cause at all. They rather satisfy the state, i.e. the party that keeps Simmons in prison at all costs.
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X
As quality often does, also good reporting depends on money. Small newspapers cannot spend as much as national newspapers, for instance. Thus, local newspapers often just rely on press releases and media outlets rather than practicing investigative journalism. This is also why small newspapers seldom report controversial issues like (the background of) local wrongful convictions. However, I do not understand their problem when all the facts and evidence are handed out to them on a platter. Example: the book Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish.
Today, Vincent Simmons is celebrating his 63rd birthday-the 38th in prison for crimes he can prove he did not commit. He does not ask for gifts. There is only one humble wish he wants to come true:
In a circular, he begs his supporters for “put[ing] aside any past disagreements, or ill feelings toward each other” and to reunite.
He writes, “We all need to get behind the book” Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish, because it “represents my team’s most positive and powerful force for change.”
“Together, we will win, but divided we will lose!”
Open the circular letter here!
The Misconception About Support
Co-Editor Raymond L. Daye of the Avoyelles Today writes in his article “Simmons wants hearing moved due to judge’s comments” on January 8, 2015, “Vincent Simmons, serving 100 years in Angola for convictions in connection with the rape of two girls in 1977, is seeking to have a hearing on his latest motions moved to another parish due to a judge’s comments about the case.” Read on at http://www.avoyellestoday.com/index.php/news/1871-simmons-wants-hearing-moved-due-to-judge-s-comments
The article also reports about Simmons’ prior mere arrests. Most of them, Simmons had never been indicted and tried for, let alone convicted of. Therefore, what serves this part of the article for other than giving rise to prejudice?
If it is about catching a glimpse of Simmons’ background, is the criminal background of the state’s star witness (who committed perjury at Simmons’ trial) not as important as well? Since newspaper articles only can cover a small fraction of the bigger picture, I am of the opinion that either no prior criminal record is revealed to the public or all involved parties’ background checks are exposed.
Co-Editor Daye reports “Aggravated rape of a juvenile carried the death penalty in 1977. The charges were amended to attempted aggravated rape before trial, removing the possibility of a death sentence.”
It sounds as though District Attorney “Eddie” Knoll, i.e. his wife and Assistant District Attorney Jeannette Theriot Knoll, along with Judge Earl Edwards acted on Simmons’ behalf. Yet, this is not the case at all. Daye once again fails to mention all the relevant facts and I wonder why he does that.
As I explained in detail in the chapter “Change of Charge” of the book Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish of 2011 (which is available at the local library for review!), the new aggravated rape statute in the aftermath of Gregg v. Georgia, Selman v. Louisiana and Coker v. Georgia replaced the death penalty with a life sentence and became effective on July 10, 1977 – three days after Vincent Simmons’ preliminary hearing and eight days before his trial.
Since Simmons allegedly committed the crime on May 9, 1977, i.e. before this new statute became effective, he had to be sentenced -if found guilty of aggravated rape- as those who were resentenced from the death penalty to twenty years. Now comes the outragous: The law imposed a fifty-year sentence on those who were convicted of attempted aggravated rape, and this is the only reason why the prosecutors and the judge amended the indictment without the Grand Jury’s knowledge, let alone a True Bill, behind closed doors.
Mr. Daye, please read the book before you continue to write half-truths! The public deserves better.
Also see “Routine Character Assassination of Innocents” at http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/10/02/routine-character-assassination-of-innocents/
“Race Card: Judge Jeansonne’s Last Verbal Bangers” at http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/12/31/race-card-judge-jeansonnes-last-verbal-bangers/
and the case summary with documents on the Innocent in Prison Project International website at http://cases.iippi.org/vincent-alfred-simmons/.
After an interview with Karen Sanders and her twin sister Sharon Chism, there is another newspaper article by the Town Talk with no news about the victims’ point of view.
Simmons’ victims vow to continue fight
By Melissa Gregory | email@example.com | (318) 792-1807 7:12 p.m. CST December 31, 2014
http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/l … /21130275/
Both women say all three were interviewed separately, and Sharon said that the infamous “all blacks look alike” quote was a way of keeping the secret.
When the girls reported the crime on May 22, 1977, Sheriff “Potch” Didier interviewed them separately (i.e. one after the other), but they were and stayed in the same room together all the time. Each one of them should have been interviewed alone, i.e. without having the sister by the side, in order to avoid mutual influencing.
Interestingly, they are still interviewed together and handled as a double pack nowadays. There is no Sharon without Karen.
Vincent Simmons told me a while ago that he had mailed a Writ of Habeas Corpus to the trial court at Marksville on October 31, 2014. It was filed on November 6, 2014. He used information contained in the book “Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish,” which had not been used in any motion before. Simmons says, the court (Judge Mark Jeansonne) ordered the district attorney to answer by December 16, 2014. On December 18th, Judge Jeansonne scheduled a hearing on the motion, reports the Avoyelles Today. But after opening the session, the judge ruled to postpone any further proceedings until next year. Why?
Today is Judge Jeansonne’s last day in office. His second term expires and tomorrow Kerry Spruill is the new judge (Division A) of the 12th judicial district. Spruill is dealing with the case next year. (See his background at http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/10/24/judge-mark-jeansonne-and-his-successor/)
Now at the end of 2014, Jeansonne does not leave his position without firing his last verbal bangers and using the local newspapers (Avoyelles Today and The Town Talk) to spread half-truths (if not even lies) about the only case before him, which gained not only national but international attention.
The Town Talk article is based on the Avoyelles Today article. Therefore, I only comment on the latter:
- The victims’ cousin was not tied up, but allegedly put in the trunk of his own car.
- Co-Editor Daye writes, “Then-District Attorney Eddie Knoll amended the aggravated rape indictments to attempted aggravated rape.” For whatever reason Daye does not mention the outrageous: This was illegal, because it was done secretly behind closed doors. There is no True Bill in which the Grand Jury voted on trying Vincent Simmons for attempted aggravated rape. The Grand Jury indicted Vincent Simmons, because the jurors decided that there was evidence of aggravated rape. Accordingly, there was no evidence for mere attempt. However, the “attempt” conviction carried a much longer sentence at that time than an actual aggravated rape conviction. Thus, the Grand Jury should have been called in again to decide on whether or not to indict Simmons for attempted aggravated rape. This never happened, and the people in Louisiana should do know!
- The co-editor quotes Jeansonne, “In fact, in the recent judge’s election, one candidate lost many votes because he would not ‘promise’ Simmons a new trial. Judges have to be independent and free from undue influence of any kind.” Does this mean that Judge Kerry Spruill was elected because he promised anything to Simmons’ supporters?! I doubt that Spruill agrees with this allegation or logical conclusion. Yes, elected judges are supposed to be independent, which contradicts itself. Ensuring equal justice under law often clashes with the interlocking of different interests. Why are not all judges (not only federal judges) appointed or obligated to climb up the ladder like other professionals?
- Jeansonne complains about Simmons playing the race-card. I do not know who is crying racism, but one thing is certain: When Judge Jeansonne chose to discuss the case publicly on the IIPPI Forum with me, he was the only one who made race a central theme. This alone demonstrates that after all these years he still does not get to the core of the problem in this case. It is about police misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct, judicial misconduct, ineffectiveness of counsel and perjury – not race! But of course, since most Avoyelleans are white, they may feel insulted or annoyed without looking into the case themselves, if they believe what Judge Jeansonne alleges about Simmons and his supporters. Is this Jeansonne’s goal? Does he want to “inflame” the citizens of the parish?
I wonder why Jeansonne talks publicly about a specific case in the first place. I also wonder why this one case is always Simmons’. If Jeansonne is so convinced of Simmons being guilty and just trying to fool everyone, Jeansonne could just lay back, relax and move on with his lawyer life. Why wasting time for nonsense?!
Judge Spruill, please do the right thing! – Does Jeansonne not sleep well at night anymore? It would be understandable, would it not? One simply cannot be convinced of anything that one cannot corroborate with proof, while evidence of the contrary literally jumps at one.
The newspaper articles are entitled:
“Jeansonne has parting words in Simmons’ case”
by Raymond L. Daye, Co-Editor
published Dec. 22, 2014
“Change of venue requested after remarks by Avoyelles judge”
by Melissa Gregory
published Dec. 30, 2014
I have seen somewhere else on the internet that people still ask, why this case has never been properly investigated by law enforcement officers, or why Simmons is denied relief from prison. The answer is in the book “Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish.” But logically, as you may have seen on the IIPPI Forum, some involved Avoyelleans like Mark Jeansonne would not want you to read it.
This may interest you as well:
Case summary with documents on the Innocent in Prison Project International website at http://cases.iippi.org/vincent-alfred-simmons/