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After 44 years, Vincent Simmons is free, but at what cost?

by Ezekiel J. Walker
vincent simmons
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A Louisiana man is out of prison after 44 years. His name is Vincent Simmons.

Simmons was convicted of attempted aggravated rape of twin Caucasian 14-year-old girls in 1977. From the onset, he’s maintained his innocence while the accusers have maintained his guilt.

According to court records, the original trial occurred 60 days after the allegation. Simmons was convicted in mere minutes of deliberation by a nearly all-White jury.

“Angola” Prison

Vincent Simmons’ story is sadly not uncommon

A White woman accusing a Black male of sexual misconduct. A story as old as America. From Emmett Till to Vincent Simmons, this heinous accusation has infected our society, causing White men to revolt in mass or hand down harsh sentences.

Simmons served time at Louisiana State Penitentiary, a maximum-security prison nicknamed “Angola” after the former plantation that once occupied its land.

Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle III said he dismissed any further charges against Simmons.

Riddle said in a court statement that despite believing there was “sufficient evidence to find Vincent Simmons guilty,” he didn’t want the victims “to undergo the trauma of another trial” or be victimized again.

On Monday, Avoyelles Parish Judge William Bennett granted a new trial. During the hearing, Judge Bennett reiterated that Vincent Simmons was not given a fair trial when convicted in 1977.

Judge Bennett granted this motion because of new evidence entered throughout Simmons’ jail sentence.

Namely the photograph of him being in handcuffs during a police lineup and secondly, the medical records of twins Sharon and the aptly named Karen Sanders.  According to records, the twins didn’t show any signs of assault, and other witness testimonies were also considered in the Judge’s ruling.

Even still, D.A. Riddle said he believed there was enough evidence to convict Simmons again. However, he asked “for what purpose” would he make the women go through another trial?

Riddle also reiterated the fact that this decision does not mean Simmons is innocent, saying, “just in case anyone has any doubt, no this is not a declaration of innocence at all.”

When asked for comment, one of the sisters said, “We’re tired. We want it behind us,” according to KALB. “He went in guilty, he’s still guilty and he’ll die guilty.”

“Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever.” 

Much like former Governor of Alabama, George Wallace, these women will not be budged from their beliefs.

Still, the Smmons family and friends experienced a cathartic explosion of bliss after hearing there would be no new trial.

Simmons’ only uttered words were, “God, God kept the faith for me.”

2 comments

Guaranteed Income Orgs. Pays Gainesville FL Ex-Prisoners for 1 year – UDOYOU March 1, 2022 - 1:53 pm

[…] program aims to address the cycle of financial inequality that often affects people impacted by the criminal justice system, especially in Florida which, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, outpaces the overall U.S. […]

Mary March 30, 2022 - 5:34 pm

Where were BLM in supporting this incredible injustice? Thank God Vincent has been freed, but the injustice is far from over. 44 years worth of injustice needs to be compensated and investigated. No wonder the DA didn’t want a retrial. The compo figure on an obvious not guilty would bankrupt the state. Well done VS lawyer for winning. I’d seek a retrial or compensation. Best wishes Vincent.

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