MARKSVILLE, La. (KALB) – Vincent Simmons, the man from Mansura who was convicted of attempted aggravated rape of twin sisters in 1977, seeks to overturn his conviction and 100-year prison sentence.
RELATED: Motion Filed For Conviction On behalf of Vincent Simmons
Justin Bonus is Simmons' new principal attorney. On Tuesday, he made some haunting allegations about the Simmons case during a press conference outside Avoyelles Parish Court House.
"The rape myth is when white men protect white women and use the justice system to lynch black men," said Bonus. "Vincent Simmons has been an innocent man in prison for 43 years."
Bonus is from New York but will practice with longtime Louisiana attorney Edward Larvadain Jr.
The Simmons legal team is hoping a judge from the Avoyelles Ward will consider his new application based on new evidence that may one day set Simmons free.
Both attorneys were surrounded by the Simmons family and their supporters when the motion was filed.
“We stand here in solidarity to help Vincent in his struggle. We ask people to come forward and help us tell the truth. We know Vincent is not guilty, ”said Simmons & # 39; sister Hattie James. "We knew that when we were kids."
There are seven main arguments put forward by the Simmons legal team in a 300-page document for post-conviction relief. The filing states: “The petitioner was a two-time pro-se petitioner, represented by The Honorable Laurie White in a 2004 motion and by Robert Hjortsberg in a 2014 motion. Although this present motion is not his first post-conviction filing and it is being filed outside of the three-year legal deadline for post-conviction filing. However, this notification is timely as it falls under one of the exceptions to the deadline. It encounters a timely exception filed under several sections of La.C.Cr.P. Articles 930.4 and 930.8 to the effect that there are multiple due process violations and newly discovered evidence in support of this request. "
This means that Simmons has previously attempted to appeal his conviction and conviction and that he is still legally in his right to appeal despite previously having failed and that he is filing outside of the three-year legal deadline.
The following information is taken from the Post-Sentencing Request and MEMORANDUM in Support of the Penal Status of Louisiana V. VINCENT SIMMONS in the Twelfth Judicial District in and for the Parish by Richard EARLEWAR, EARLEWAR, PRESIDING ”document:
- ITEM I: THIS PLEASE SHOULD BE HEARD
- ITEM II: VINCENT SIMMONS IS REALLY INNOCENT
- ITEM III: NEW DISCOVERED EVIDENCE Would have likely changed the verdict the jury heard, which is now in the court
- ITEM IV: "THREE NAMES REDACTED" INCORRECTLY TESTED. HOW HAS A FRAUD WAS PRESENTED TO THE COURT.
- ITEM V: THE STATE CONDEMNED INJURIES OF BRADY AND JENCKS
- ITEM VI: THE EXPERIMENTAL ADVISOR HAS PROVIDED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE TO THE ADVISOR IF IT DOES NOT EXAMINATE OR APPROPRIATELY EXAMINATE ALL WITNESSES DURING THE TRIAL
- ITEM VII: A MINIMUM HEARING IS REQUIRED TO DETERMINE THE ACCURACY OF SIMMONS 'CLAIMS
Some of these points include arguments that Simmons is innocent, that there is newly discovered evidence, and that the state has committed both Brady and Jencks violations. A Brady violation occurs when the defense accuses the prosecutor of withholding information relevant to the case that may be beneficial to the defendant. A violation of Jencks occurs when the defense accuses the state of withholding testimony to be submitted for questioning.
They also claim that Simmons had ineffective advice during his trial.
This is the 20th motion for post-conviction relief on behalf of Simmons, according to Charles Riddle III, District Attorney for the Avoyelles Parish. Riddle said they were all turned down.
"The victims have repeatedly stated that it happened, and now he (Simmons) is saying it didn't, but of course he (Simmons) said that for several years," said Riddle. "We'll look at it objectively and then argue the case accordingly."
With the allegations of new evidence, Riddle said the filing would be reviewed and a decision will be made whether to hear or reject it. Riddle said prosecutors will objectively review the filing and speak to witnesses and victims.
Regarding what Bonus claims in the 300+ page filing, Riddle said, "In some cases, I think he (Bonus) is blaming the victims, which is not an unusual tactic. We'll see. I'll be with the Talk to victims about each of these allegations. "
Riddle expects the matter to be heard sometime in February.
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