|Vincent Alfred Simmons
Louisiana State Prison
Angola, LA 70712
|DOB: February 17, 1952|
|Vincent Simmons' case data|
|State and Parish||Louisiana, Avoyelles Parish|
|Crime||2 counts of attempted aggravated rape|
|Date of Crime||May 9, 1977|
|Date of Arrest||May 23, 1977|
|Date of Conviction||July 20, 1977|
|Sentence||two 50-year sentences at hard labor to run consecutively|
|Age at the Date of Crime||25|
|Contributing Factors||Mistaken Eyewitness Identification, Perjury, False Accusation, Official Misconduct|
|Did DNA evidence contribute to the conviction?||No|
|Is there DNA evidence to test?||No|
The original indictment charges were two counts of aggravated rape. Penalty was death at the time of the crime. See how twisted everything became!
MONDAY, MAY 9, 1977 (approx. 9 P.M. – 12 P.M.):
Eighteen year-old Keith Laborde is driving around with his minor cousins Sharon and Karen Sanders in his old car.
SUNDAY, MAY 22, 1977 (approx. 6 P.M.):
Sharon and Karen Sanders report to Sheriff “Potch” Didier, Major Fabius Didier, Captain Floyd Juneau and Deputy Barbara DeCuir at the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office that a “black man” raped them on May 9, 1977.
MONDAY, MAY 23, 1977:
(7 A.M.): Captain Floyd Juneau’s and Lieutenant Robert Laborde’s shift begins.
(8 A.M.): Juneau and Laborde “decide” to arrest African American Vincent Simmons.
(9 P.M.): Simmons is strolling down Waddil Street in Marksville near the St. Joseph cemetery. Lead investigator Captain Floyd Juneau and Lieutenant Robert Laborde come by in their patrol car and arrest him “on view,” without an arrest warrant, for two counts of aggravated rape. At the Sheriff’s Office, Potch Didier tells Captain Melvin Villemarette to establish a line-up with the arrestee. The line-up consists of one white and seven black persons. (See photo below!)It shows that Simmons (number 4) is the only one in handcuffs. Keith Laborde, Sharon and Karen Sanders are together in the room behind the mirror and indentify the handcuffed man.
(approx. 9:30 A.M. – 10:00 A.M.): Officers Laborde and Villemarette take the shackled Simmons upstairs to the ID room. They do not interrogate him. Vincent Simmons refuses to sign a confession that Laborde has formulated. Lieutenant Robert Laborde shoots Simmons in his left chest missing the arrestee’s heart by three inches. Several colleagues and the sheriff witness the scene seconds later. Laborde and Villemarette allege that Simmons took Villemarette’s gun and tried to shoot them.
Before the shooting, Keith Laborde begins to give his statement to Deputy Barbara DeCuir and Captain Floyd Juneau.
Coroner F. P. Bordelon arranges for the shooting victim to be rushed to the Huey P. Long Hospital in Pineville, Louisiana. Simmons is unconscious. Lieutenant Laborde’s weapon is released for investigation.
District Attorney “Eddie” Knoll calls the victims’ family at the house of Keith Laborde’s father. Sharon and Karen Sanders give their handwritten statements.
Judge Earl Edwards now orders to arrest Vincent Simmons for the rape of Sharon and Karen Sanders. The police officers take photos of Keith Laborde’s car and the alleged crime scene on Little California Road. Lieutenant Robert Laborde writes a supplementary report concerning the “offense” of the “investigation and shooting of Vincent Simmons” in Captain Villemarette’s and his own name.
TUESDAY, MAY 24, 1977:
Coroner F. P. Bordelon examines both girls and discovers that one of the girls’ “hymen was in tact and I was unable to insert one examining finger.” The twins mention the name “Vincent Simmons” for the first time while telling Dr. Bordelon what happened on May 9, 1977.
Captain Juneau and Lieutenant Laborde request a search warrant for the homes of two of Simmons’ sisters. They seek “maroon trousers, silk looking shirt with tassle like appendages” and a “brown handle pistol about six or seven inches long.“
WEDNESDAY, May 25, 1977:
(2:30 P.M.): Captain Floyd Juneau seizes a “black shirt with ruffles,” a “pair maroon jeans,” and a “pair of double knit pants (maroon in color)” at Simmons’ common law brother-in-law’s house. The investigators Floyd Juneau and Robert Laborde charge Vincent Simmons with two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of attempted murder.
FRIDAY, MAY 27, 1977:
Four days after the shooting, Vincent Simmons is released from hospital. Sheriff deputies take him back to Avoyelles Parish and put him in a one man jail cell at the Sheriff’s Department.
FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 1977:
The Grand Jury of Avoyelles Parish indicts Vincent Simmons for two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of attempted murder and returns a True Bill.
Coroner F. P. Bordelon formulates his findings about his medical examination of the two fourteen-year-old girls in his written reports addressed to District Attorney “Eddie” Knoll.
THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 1977:
Public defender Harold Brouillette files a Motion for Preliminary Hearing. Judge Earl Edwards orders that “a preliminary hearing be held in the case of State of Louisiana vs. Vincent Simmons on the two counts of aggravated rape on the 7 day of July, 1977, at 1 o’clock P.M.”
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 1977:
The United States Supreme Court rules in Coker v. Georgia that the death penalty is unconstitutional for the crime of rape.
THURSDAY, JULY 7, 1977 (1 P.M.):
After the preliminary hearing, Judge Edwards schedules Simmons’ trial for July 18, 1977.
THURSDAY, JULY 14, 1977:
Assistant District Attorney Jeannette Theriot Knoll files a Motion to Amend Indictment. She requests that the indictment of two counts of aggravated rape be amended to two counts of attempted aggravated rape. Judge Edwards signs the motion behind closed doors–without a second Grand Jury hearing.
Note: After the decision in Coker v. Georgia, aggravated rape only carried a twenty-year sentence per count upon conviction because there was no other law in the books yet. Attempted aggravated rape, however, would imprison Simmons for fifty years per count, if convicted.
MONDAY, JULY 18, 1977: jury selection
TUESDAY, JULY 19 and WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 1977: trial. It ends with a guilty verdict.
THURSDAY, JULY 28, 1977: Judge Earl Edwards imposes a one hundred-year sentence (fifty years for each count, to run consecutively).
Online discussion with Judge Mark Jeansonne
There is an interesting discussion with Judge Mark Jeansonne of Avoyelles Parish on the Innocent in Prison Project International forum about Vincent Simmons’ case and the book Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish.
Judge Mark Jeansonne and his successor
On November 4th, 2014 is election day in Avoyelles Parish, the parish with Louisiana‘s strongest prison lobby. In January of 2014, Judge Jeansonne of the 12th Judicial District announced in an open letter to the residents published by the local newspaper that he would not seek reelection. He is retiring after 12 years (2 terms) in office, two close races against Kerry Spruill, an investigation for allegations of election fraud (2008), an investigation by the Louisiana Board of Ethics with verdict of guilty (2011), and at least one more confidential investigation (2013) behind closed doors by the Office of Special Counsel (Judiciary Commission of Louisiana).
Race card: Judge Jeansonne’s last verbal bangers
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 map above shows where the three teenagers and the rapist allegedly drove around at night on May 9, 1977.
Visit the blog of this book at www.vincentsimmons.iippi.org. It provides a preview and has been used for updates since the publication of the book in 2011.
How you can help
Share this article!
Donations can be made via JPay.com directly into Vincent Simmons’ inmate account. See the detailed information on the website of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections at http://doc.louisiana.gov/communicate-with-offenderssend-money
In case, there will ever be a hearing or a retrial, Simmons needs a defense attorney.
On his 63rd birthday, Vincent Simmons was begging his supporters in a circular. Read his letter here.
Simmons needs investigative journalists, who disclose to the public what is already exposed in the book “Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish,” which is still ignored by the local press. Especially local journalists might keep digging and uncover further scandals.
Read the book! It is available at the local library in Marksville, but also in book stores. The book (with its blog) is the only most complete source there is, where one can learn everything researched and known about this case, the system, and the people more or less involved. Not all of them appear in the documents of this case.
Once you have read the book, you have the knowledge needed to become a strong activist for the cause. Affect change!
Karen Sanders’ and Sharon Sanders’ initial statements (pdf, 25 pages)
(Sunday) May 22, 1977
Waiver of Rights (pdf, 1 page)
May 23, 1977 (9:00 hrs)
Arrest Report (pdf, 1 page)
May 23, 1977
Supplementary Report: Investigation and Shooting of Vincent Simmons (pdf, 2 pages)
by Sheriff Deputy Robert J. Laborde, Jr. and Melvin Villemarette
May 23, 1977
Karen Sanders’ Voluntary Statement (pdf, 3 pages)
May 23, 1977
Sharon Sanders’ Voluntary Statement (pdf, 5 pages)
May 23, 1977
Keith Laborde’s Voluntary Statement (pdf, 2 pages)
May 23, 1977
Supplementary Report: Aggravated Rape (2 Counts) and Attempted Murder (2 Counts) (pdf, 3 pages)
by Sheriff Deputy Robert J. Laborde, Jr.
May 25, 1977
Coroner’s Report: Karen Sanders (pdf, 1 page)
June 10, 1977
Coroner’s Report: Sharon Sanders (pdf, 1 pages)
June 10, 1977
Vincent Simmons’ Medical Record from being Shot by Police (pdf, 16 pages)
May 23 through May 28, 1977
Indictment/ True Bill (pdf, 1 page)
June 10, 1977
Trial (July 18th – July 20th, 1977)
July 19, 1977:
Reading of Bill of Indictment (pdf, 2 pages)
Compare the Reading of the Bill of Indictment with the Indictment/ True Bill of June 10, 1977. There is no other True Bill. In order to understand also read the Time Line on the right and Giving Rise to Prejudice
July 20, 1977:
Trial Defense Attorney’s letter
Harold J. Brouillette’s letter to Vincent Simmons (pdf, 1 page)
November 13, 1998