Vincent Simmons case: “48 Hours” investigates the claims and gorgeous allegations behind Louisiana man’s conviction

Vincent Simmons was launched from a Louisiana jail in February after serving 44 years for tried aggravated rape of dual sisters. He says he did not do it – however the sisters say he is responsible. Are the sisters telling the reality or was this a lie to guard a household secret? “48 Hours” contributor David Begnaud investigates the case towards Simmons and hears for the primary time from a girl who says she is aware of the reality.

For similar twins Karen and Sharon Sanders, life is damaged into two components: earlier than Might 1977 — and after. They are saying what occurred one evening that Might modified every little thing.

Karen Sanders: Each time I discuss it, it makes me really feel like I am 14 once more.

Karen Sanders: The constraints it placed on our life, like with anxiousness … despair—panic assaults … It is crippling, actually. … It is taken quite a bit from us.

Again in 1977, the 14-year-old twins had been dwelling with their grandparents within the quiet, small city of Marksville, Louisiana. And for probably the most half, they are saying they had been pleased there staying busy and having fun with the little issues in life.

Sharon Sanders: I— was all about—

Sharon and Karen Sanders: Make-up —

Sharon Sanders: — and fragrance and being prissy (laughs). And Karen was extra outdoors taking part in within the dust.

Karen Sanders: That is true.

Karen and Sharon Sanders
Karen and Sharon Sanders 

Karen Sanders

Life was easy … till it wasn’t.

David Begnaud: What makes it so tough for you, Karen, 44 years later, to even discuss it?

Karen Sanders: Nicely, it is—quite a bit occurred that evening.

The twins say all of it started Might 9, 1977, when their cousin, Keith Laborde, picked them up so they may assist him clear his home…

By the point they completed cleansing, it was simply starting to get darkish, Keith was driving them house, and that is once they say he stopped at that gasoline station and encountered a Black man.

Sharon Sanders: He walked as much as the automotive and informed Keith that he nearly hit him. And Keith, you recognize, didn’t. … And Keith would inform him, he did not need a combat. And he stated, “I do not combat. I shoot.”

David Begnaud: The person stated this?

Karen Sanders: Sure—

Sharon Sanders: The person stated it immediately. Karen went inside to pay for the gasoline. And … me and Keith had been speaking to this man. And we exchanged names … And he stated his identify was Simmons.

The twins say any stress between Keith and the person quickly lifted, and that is why they are saying Keith agreed to present the person a journey.

Karen Sanders: We had been like, Keith, you recognize, —do not. And he is like, “it will be OK. It will be OK. “

However they are saying they knew it wasn’t OK when the person directed them to that desolate space of Little California Street and threatened them.

Sharon Sanders: He informed us that earlier than we may get a gun, he would shoot us.

Karen Sanders: Uh-huh.

Sharon Sanders: Which we didn’t have a gun. … So, we knew he had a gun.

Keith Laborde's car
Keith Laborde’s automotive.  

Avoyelles Parish District Lawyer’s Workplace

They are saying the person ordered them out of the automotive and compelled Keith into the trunk.

David Begnaud: Keith’s how previous?

Karen and Sharon Sanders: Eighteen.

David Begnaud: So, he acquired within the trunk?

Sharon Sanders: Sure—

Karen Sanders: He did.

Sharon Sanders: He informed us to take off our garments. Karen began to run at that time. And I yelled and he or she stopped.

Karen Sanders: He stated, “This one’s gonna give me bother.” And so, he opened the trunk and he put me within the trunk with Keith. And he had Sharon.

Sharon Sanders: I took off my garments. Informed me to get within the again seat and I did. And he informed me find out how to lay and I did.

Karen Sanders: I can hear Sharon cryin’. And, in fact, I can not take it. So, I am bangin’ on the trunk and I am banging and I am screaming, “Take me. Take me. Go away her alone. Take me. Take me.”

Sharon Sanders: Karen was again there making every kind of commotion. And issues did not work out for him with me.

Karen Sanders [to Sharon]: It is all proper.

Sharon Sanders: And he was very pissed off. You might see it and really feel it. And he acquired very aggravated and informed me to place my garments again on.

David Begnaud: While you say issues did not work out for him, what do you imply?

Sharon Sanders: He tried to penetrate and was unsuccessful. However on the time, I used to be 14. I didn’t know he was unsuccessful. I actually thought—

Karen Sanders: You had misplaced your virginity—

Sharon Sanders: — I had misplaced my virginity. I had no clue.

Afterwards, Sharon says she was put within the trunk with Karen and Keith – after which, the person began driving.

Karen Sanders: We simply discovered one another’s fingers and started to wish. After which the automotive stopped. And he stated, “You, out.”

David Begnaud: And pointed at you, Karen?

Karen Sanders: Sure. … He informed me to put within the again seat. … He, um—he raped me.

Then, with Sharon and Keith nonetheless within the trunk, Karen says the person simply needed to speak.

Karen Sanders: It was like nothing had occurred, that we had been like greatest mates; that we had been simply hanging out.

David Begnaud: And also you went together with it, simply speaking –

Karen Sanders: Completely. … To maintain him calm.

David Begnaud: And the way lengthy did this go on for?

Karen Sanders: To me, a lifetime. … He informed me he got here from a big household …  and about the place he had lived and all this and he had simply gotten again from Texas.

Sharon and Karen Sanders
Sharon, left, and Karen Sanders.

CBS Information

She says once they stopped speaking, the person raped her once more — a number of occasions.

Karen Sanders: I keep in mind, like, laying in that again seat and his chest – I imply, his heaviness on my chest and the sweat … And it was simply disgusting.

She says he then drove them to a neighborhood cemetery the place he acquired out of the automotive.

Karen Sanders: He opens the trunk, and he lets them out. … He’ll allow us to go.

Sharon Sanders: And he informed us, for those who inform anybody, I do know the place y’all dwell. I’ve acquired mates. He stated, “And I’ll come again.”

Sharon Sanders: And all of us swore to one another that we’d not inform a soul.

They are saying simply the worry of what would possibly occur in the event that they informed, saved them silent for 2 weeks — till Karen says she could not maintain it in anymore. She says she confided in Keith’s sister.

Karen Sanders: And I stated, “However please —please do not inform anybody. Please do not inform anybody.” … She stated, “I am not gonna inform anybody.”

Sharon Sanders: And it simply unraveled from there.

The subsequent day, Keith’s dad and mom came upon—and shortly, Karen, Sharon and Keith all ended up on the sheriff’s workplace. Karen and Sharon every gave statements reporting that they’d been raped and fewer than 24 hours later, on the morning of Might 23, 1977, 25-year-old Vincent Simmons was taken into custody as he was strolling down the road.

David Begnaud: Do you know Karen and Sharon Sanders?

Vincent Simmons: By no means seen ’em earlier than in my life.


It was Might 23, 1977, when Vincent Simmons was delivered to the sheriff’s workplace, which was on the second ground of the Avoyelles Parish Courthouse, in Marksville.

Vincent Simmons: They usually took me and put me in a lineup.

Vincent Simmons lineup photo
Vincent Simmons, second from left, is seen standing in what seems to be a lineup after he was arrested on Might 23, 1977. 

Avoyelles Parish District Lawyer’s Workplace

Karen, Sharon and Keith had been all there to see if they may establish a suspect.

Sharon Sanders: We’re all three … within the room.

Karen Sanders: However we’re not all strolling as much as the window on the similar time—

Sharon Sanders: No.

Karen Sanders: Keith goes first. Keith writes the quantity down on a pad.

Karen Sanders: I stroll up, I have a look at him … And I’m going to the pad; I write his quantity down. After which Sharon goes as much as the window, appears out—and writes her quantity down.

Sharon Sanders: And writes the quantity down.

David Begnaud: What quantity did you all write?

Karen and Sharon Sanders: 4.

Karen Sanders: After which they stated –

Sharon Sanders [to Karen]: You keep in mind that? Oh my gosh, yeah. After all you do.

Karen Sanders: Then they stated to us, “Y’all have all picked the identical man.”

That man they recognized was 25-year-old Vincent Simmons. He was from a giant household within the subsequent city over from Marksville, and this wasn’t the primary time he discovered himself within the sheriff’s workplace.

Vincent Simmons: I did not have a daddy, you recognize, so mainly, I grew up alone, searching for my little sisters … I used to be doing incorrect. I used to be going into shops … simply to get some meals to feed them.

Vincent was convicted of a house housebreaking on the age of 18. Whereas incarcerated, he escaped from the jail in Marksville. He lived on the run in Texas for practically six years till he got here again to city — shortly earlier than that lineup. 

Karen Sanders: And once I walked as much as the window, and I appeared … I had no second doubt … I do know precisely who raped me that evening. 

Vincent Simmons
Vincent Simmons has at all times maintained his innocence and insists he did not even know the twins on the time of the alleged encounter. 

CBS Information

After Sharon, Karen, and Keith, ID’d Vincent, he says he was introduced upstairs to the jail the place he waited whereas an officer was writing one thing down.

Vincent Simmons: I am sitting on the chair in handcuffs. When he will get via, he stated, “I need you to signal that.” I stated, “What’s that?” He stated, “This can be a confession saying that you just dedicated this crime.” I stated, “What crime?” You recognize, he stated, “Rape of these two white women.” I stated, “I do not even know these white women.”

Vincent says when he refused to signal the confession, the officer knocked him down, and as they struggled, one other officer shot him.

Vincent Simmons: Increase. I used to be burning via my chest, you recognize. And I fell on the ground … Once I awoke, I am within the hospital.

The 2 officers concerned inform a really completely different story. They are saying Vincent grabbed one officer’s gun and was pointing it at each of them when the second officer shot Vincent within the shoulder— in self-defense. Regardless of the reality, Vincent was by no means prosecuted for that incident. As a substitute, lower than two months after he was shot, he was delivered to court docket to face Sharon and Karen.

David Begnaud: Lower than 60 days after he was arrested, Vincent went on trial. Is {that a} fairly speedy … time?

DA Charles Riddle: In 1977, I might say, for main circumstances, they went to court docket rapidly.

Charles Riddle was not the district legal professional again then, however he’s now and is aware of the main points of the case.

David Begnaud: What was the proof towards him?

DA Charles Riddle: The testimony of the witnesses — the victims.

Karen, Sharon and Keith all took the stand.

Karen Sanders: Stroll right into a courtroom. Your dad and mom, all people that loves you, is sitting there.

Sharon Sanders: And seeing him for the very —

Sharon and Karen Sanders [in unison]: — first time.

Sharon Sanders: We have now not seen him because the lineup. After which seeing him, nose to nose … was actually exhausting.

Karen Sanders: After all, I needed to put my hand on the Bible and swear to inform the reality, nothing however the reality, which is all I had, anyway.

All of them testified that on the evening of the rape Vincent had informed them his final identify.

Karen Sanders: Consider it or not, all evening lengthy, we known as him Simmons. He informed us to name him Simmons.

David Begnaud: At trial … all of them say, “Simmons, Simmons, the person informed us his identify was Simmons.” What’d you suppose then?

Vincent Simmons: I assumed they had been loopy. I truly thought they had been loopy. You imply to inform me I’ll do one thing to y’all and let y’all know my identify? … I’ll let you know who I’m? No. That do not make sense, man.

Trial reenactment
The jury was proven this photograph police took of Karen and Sharon Sanders and Keith Laborde reenacting how they are saying they slot in Laborde’s trunk on the evening of the assault. 

Avoyelles Parish District Lawyer’s Workplace

The jury acquired to see Keith’s automotive and a photograph police had taken of Karen, Sharon and Keith reenacting how they match within the trunk. When it was the protection’s flip, Vincent took the stand.

Vincent Simmons: I informed the jury that I used to be harmless. I did not rape no one.

Vincent’s attorneys additionally known as three alibi witnesses who claimed that Vincent was at a bar on the evening of the alleged crime. The bar proprietor stated Vincent was there all evening—he acquired right into a combat—and police had been known as. However the prosecution known as a police officer who stated the bar combat was on one other evening.

DA Charles Riddle: I do not suppose they’d a lot of a protection

After a two-day trial, the jury sided with Karen, Sharon and Keith. Vincent Simmons was discovered responsible of two counts of tried aggravated rape.

Vincent Simmons: I used to be shocked. Responsible? I ain’t did nothing.

David Begnaud: When the decision got here again, responsible, unanimously, how did that really feel?

Sharon Sanders: Sigh of reduction. We knew we had been free.

Vincent was sentenced to 2 consecutive 50-year phrases — 100 years behind bars.

Sharon Sanders: We thought we would by no means should face him once more.

However Vincent refused to surrender hope.

Vincent Simmons: I needed to show that I am harmless, man. I by no means knew these individuals.

Greater than 4 many years later, Justin Bonus, a newly minted lawyer from Brooklyn, New York, would develop into concerned in Vincent’s protection and was instantly skeptical of the prosecution’s case.

Justin Bonus: I appeared on the discovery, I used to be like, “Nicely, every little thing they stated at trial was a lie. It is all a lie.” … There’s nothing that helps what they are saying.


Generations of males have labored within the fields at Louisiana State Penitentiary. It’s the nation’s largest maximum-security jail, constructed on the location of a former slave plantation known as Angola.

Vincent Simmons: You recognize we needed to work seven days per week. … ’til it will get darkish. …That is how Angola was.

Vincent Simmons' booking photo
Vincent Simmons’ reserving photograph at Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Louisiana State Penitentiary

Because the day that cell door closed behind him, Vincent Simmons has been working to overturn his conviction. In 1993, 16 years after that responsible verdict, he lastly succeeded in getting a replica of the prosecution’s case file.

Vincent Simmons: Mailman got here, and he gave me this large previous envelope. Once I opened it up— man, I used to be in shock.

Inside that envelope had been objects that Vincent had by no means seen earlier than, together with copies of the preliminary statements that Karen, Keith, and Sharon gave to police. Keep in mind how all three testified at trial that they knew their attacker’s identify?

Karen Sanders:He informed us to name him Simmons.”

However because it seems, once they first spoke to the investigators, they did not say that. Protection legal professional Justin Bonus has since reviewed these statements. 

Vincent Simmons evidence
Within the unique statements to police, Vincent Simmons was described by his accusers as “a black topic, identify unknown.”

CBS Information

David Begnaud: When the women initially went to police, they did not say the identify “Simmons?”

Justin Bonus: No.

David Begnaud: What identify did they are saying?

Justin Bonus: They did not give a reputation.

And Bonus observed one thing else in these statements. Sharon used the N-word to discuss with her attacker and stated, “all Blacks look alike to me”— which she doesn’t deny saying.

David Begnaud: So, what did you say once they requested you to establish the person?

Sharon Sanders: I stated, “All Blacks look alike.”

However nonetheless, Karen, Keith, and Sharon, all picked Vincent out of that lineup.  And Bonus says he could know why. The photograph that was in that file seems to point out the lineup. In it, Vincent is the one one in handcuffs.

David Begnaud: While you noticed that lineup photograph, what’d you suppose?

Justin Bonus: What? I stated that is loopy. Nuts. … Extremely suggestive. While you put the cuffs on him, you are telling them, that is who we would like you to select.

However Charles Riddle, the present district legal professional, says that photograph was taken after the twins ID’d Vincent.

DA Charles Riddle: They name it the lineup … it was a photograph of the lineup after he was recognized and positioned in cuffs.

David Begnaud: However how have you learnt it was after?

DA Charles Riddle: As a result of the women informed me that.

David Begnaud: So, if you picked him out of the lineup, was he sporting handcuffs –

Karen Sanders: No.

Sharon Sanders: No, he was not.

Karen Sanders: By no means.

And Karen says they initially did not inform police the identify Simmons out of worry.

Karen Sanders: I imply, we had been afraid of him.

Sharon Sanders: And see, I do not know why I did not.

Karen Sanders: I imply, I believe it is –

Sharon Sanders: Aside from I used to be –

Karen Sanders: — worry. We had been afraid of him.

Justin Bonus
Protection legal professional Justin Bonus reads a important piece of proof that was by no means seen on the trial. The report from a physician who examined the Sanders twins two weeks after the reported rape which didn’t doc any indicators of sexual assault.

CBS Information

And there is one other merchandise in that file that Bonus says is important and was by no means seen on the trial. It is the report from a physician—who was additionally the native coroner. He examined the women two weeks after the reported rape, and didn’t doc any indicators of sexual assault.

David Begnaud: How large a deal do you suppose the coroner’s report … performs on this story?  

Justin Bonus: Large.

And Bonus says that report means that Sharon was nonetheless a virgin—the physician wrote that her hymen was intact. However Charles Riddle says that report doesn’t show that the twins weren’t raped.

DA Charles Riddle
District legal professional Charles Riddle says the physician’s report doesn’t show that the twins weren’t raped.

CBS Information

DA Charles Riddle: As a result of the definition of rape is slightest penetration. …  And the half about no signal of sexual assault? After two weeks, it’s extremely possible that there can be no signal of sexual assault.

Bonus thinks the jury ought to have had the possibility to think about all of that at trial.

Justin Bonus: His attorneys … That they had nothing. They went in there flying blind with their arms tied behind their again in a boxing match. … That is actually what it was.

David Begnaud: So, you are telling me the unique statements that the women and Keith gave to police, the place they may not establish this particular person—

Justin Bonus: Proper.

David Begnaud: —that was by no means heard by the jury?

Justin Bonus: Completely not.

David Begnaud: And the medical report from the coroner was by no means heard by the jury?

Justin Bonus: Proper.

David Begnaud: And the lineup photograph? Not seen by the jury?

Justin Bonus: No.

David Begnaud: If the statements from the women had been offered at trial …

Justin Bonus: Proper.

David Begnaud: If the coroner’s report had been identified and offered at trial…

Justin Bonus: Proper.

David Begnaud: Do you suppose Vincent nonetheless would’ve been discovered responsible? 

Justin Bonus: No. Completely not. 

Again in 1993, when Vincent first acquired his fingers on that proof, he made it his mission to get his case in entrance of a decide. He filed quite a few pleadings over a number of years, however no court docket ever dominated in his favor.

DA Charles Riddle: And never a single decide felt like there was sufficient proof, not the appellate courts, federal courts, state courts, supreme court docket.

Vincent hoped that the parole board on the jail may need extra sympathy. So, in 1997, 20 years into his 100-year sentence, he had his first listening to with them. And it was filmed as a part of a documentary known as, “The Farm,” which profiled inmates at Angola. Vincent confirmed them the proof that his protection didn’t have at trial.

[From “THE FARM”]

VINCENT SIMMONS [addressing board members: We didn’t have none of this evidence. None of this evidence was presented before the jury.

BOARD MEMBER: You were the only one handcuffed in the lineup?

VINCENT SIMMONS: I’m the only one.

BOARD MEMBER: OK, if y’all step out we’ll discuss the case.

Vincent hoped the board would rule in his favor.

BOARD MEMBER [to other board members]: In 20 years, I might give you one thing too.

ANOTHER BOARD MEMBER: Oh sure, sure — he did it. Ain’t little question in my thoughts.

However they might not.

BOARD MEMBER: Mr. Simmons after listening to testimony and going over the experiences the board has voted right now to disclaim your request for parole.

Vincent Simmons: I used to be hopeless, however … I do know the reality. And regardless of what number of occasions they knock you down, maintain getting up.

Nearly 20 years later, Justin Bonus watched “The Farm” documentary along with his spouse.

Justin Bonus: And we had been shocked. … She informed me, you recognize, “You need to take this case. … She mainly stated, “It is advisable to write him.” And it wasn’t actually a suggestion. (laughs) It was, “write him!” … … and that is what I did. 


David Begnaud: You are a Brooklyn man. … You go all the way down to Marksville.

Justin Bonus: I felt like “My Cousin Vinny.” …  I imply, it was like, nation, OK?

By early 2020, Justin Bonus had develop into Vincent Simmons’ lawyer. He had only a 12 months of expertise underneath his belt and was warned that the percentages had been towards him.

New York lawyer makes it his mission to free Louisiana man from jail


Justin Bonus: “It is over, like, he does not have any extra appeals,” I used to be like, “Nah. … That is not true. … It is by no means true. Completely not.”

Vincent had been preventing unsuccessfully for many years to overturn his conviction. All of the whereas, Karen and Sharon Sanders remained agency about his guilt.

Karen Sanders: We have now no purpose to lie. Why would we lie? Why would we let somebody … spend their life in jail if we even had the slightest doubt that it wasn’t him?

Not lengthy after Vincent’s ill-fated parole listening to, documentary cameras had been rolling once more within the late 90s when he and the twins agreed to a reconciliation assembly. It is the place victims and offenders come collectively to attempt to heal.

KAREN TO VINCENT: We got here as we speak to not free you out of your jail, however to free us from our jail.

SHARON TO VINCENT: In the present day I’m closing the door to my ache. … I am letting go.

When the time got here for Vincent to talk, he had questions.

VINCENT SIMMONS: My questions going to be immediately based mostly in your assertion that you just gave—

KAREN & SHARON: No, we’re not going there.

And that is when the assembly unraveled.

SHARON SANDERS: What are you doing right here then? Because you’re harmless, what are you doing right here?

VINCENT SIMMONS: Y’all put me right here.

SHARON SANDERS: We did? No, a selection that you just selected to make put you right here.

VINCENT SIMMONS: I imply the reality was hidden

KAREN SANDERS: OK. I believe we’re—I believe we have had sufficient. I believe it is sort of going bitter.

SHARON SANDERS: Vincent, perhaps in the future you may get out of your ache, of your distress.

Justin Bonus: They did not let him communicate … as a result of they do not view him as a human being.

Bonus needed to place a highlight on the case and actually dig deeper, however he wanted some assist. So, he turned to Jason Flom, a recording trade govt identified for launching the careers of Katy Perry, Matchbox 20, and Lorde, amongst others. Flom can also be a prison justice advocate and he hosts a podcast known as, “Wrongful Conviction,” which has featured large identify visitors like Kim Kardashian.

Jason Flom: Once I heard about Vincent’s case … I used to be identical to, “That is one other degree.” … I needed to do one thing about it.

Flom featured Vincent’s case on his podcast.

JASON FLOM [Wrongful Conviction” podcast]: How may anybody get convicted on the idea of this?

Jason Flom: This can be a man whose life was stolen away from him.

And he gave Justin Bonus cash to exit and rent a personal investigator in Louisiana named Brian Andrews.

Brian Andrews: Justin truly requested me to be the boots on the bottom … take statements, collect info.

Andrews tracked down Diane Prater, the lone surviving juror from Vincent’s trial and the one African American on the jury. Seems, she says she by no means needed to convict Vincent. Prater was in her 20s on the time of trial and says she nonetheless remembers her response to the twins’ testimony.

Diane Prater
Diane Prater, the lone surviving juror from Vincent Simmons’ trial and the one African American on the jury, says she by no means believed Vincent Simmons was responsible.

CBS Information

Diane Prater: After they … informed their story, I am, like, “Ain’t no method on the planet that occurred like that.” … Put a Black man in your automotive at the moment?

David Begnaud: You did not imagine it as a result of at that interval in historical past, you simply could not see White individuals giving a journey to Black individuals?

Diane Prater: Right.

David Begnaud: Was there lots of racism in Marksville?

Diane Prater: Sure, it was. It was in Marksville. It was … in every single place.

And she or he says the jury foreman informed her that her vote would not matter. In 1977, Louisiana juries may convict a defendant with solely 10 out of 12 voting responsible.

Diane Prater: So, I say to myself …  it ain’t going to do me no good to say nothing … However I by no means, by no means, by no means believed Vincent was responsible.

The personal investigator additionally tried to speak to family of Karen, Sharon, and Keith. He ended up conducting a videotaped interview with Keith’s cousin, Dana Brouillette — and he or she informed him a stunning story. Dana stated that Keith informed her in a bar, lengthy after the trial, that Vincent Simmons was by no means with them on Little California Street that evening.

DANA BROUILLETTE [to Brian Andrews]: He got here out and informed me. There was by no means a Black man.

As a substitute, in a sworn affidavit, Dana says that Keith informed her that “he had consensual intercourse with one of many women and locked the opposite within the trunk.”

DANA BROUILLETTE [to Brian Andrews]: He had gone down Little California Street and he locked Sharon within the trunk, and he stated the intercourse between him and Karen was consensual. He stated however the different one was a bit of hellcat. … That is the one which put the scratches on his neck.

Dana Brouillette
Dana Brouillette throughout an interview with personal investigator Brian Andrews.

Brian Andrews

Within the affidavit, Dana says Keith had scratches on his neck. She informed the personal investigator that she believes Keith and the twins made up the story a few Black man to clarify away these scratches and

Brian Andrews: Blew my thoughts the issues that she stated.

David Begnaud: Had Dana ever informed anybody that?

Brian Andrews: To my information – I do not suppose she had.

DANA BROUILLETTE [to Brian Andrews]: I perhaps ought to have come ahead a very long time in the past … I actually did suppose the person acquired launched.

And Dana’s allegations did not cease there. She additionally gave the personal investigator a replica of a Fb message trade that she says she had with Karen in October 2020. Karen and Dana had been speaking about how Keith had allegedly made sexual advances in direction of feminine family. We requested Karen about that.

Karen Sanders
Karen Sanders is questioned a few Fb message trade with Keith’s Laborde’s cousin, Dana Brouillette, about how Keith had allegedly made sexual advances in direction of feminine family.

CBS Information

David Begnaud: You stated … “I did not understand how sick he was. I assumed it was solely me.”

Karen Sanders: I do not keep in mind saying that.

David Begnaud: Yeah, as a result of that is the message from you. … So what did you imply by that?

Karen Sanders: OK. We have to minimize proper now. Minimize this. Can we minimize for a second?

David Begnaud: Yeah. Yeah.

Proper then, Karen stated she was not prepared to speak about that trade with Dana. However two weeks later, in a follow-up interview with each her and Sharon, she admitted that years earlier than she says they had been attacked, when she was a baby and Keith was an adolescent, one thing occurred.

David Begnaud: Did you could have consensual intercourse with Keith Laborde?

Karen Sanders: OK, let’s put it like this: We had been youngsters … We experimented. So sure.

David Begnaud: How previous had been you when it occurred?

Karen Sanders: I’ve—I can not—truthfully … I do not know. 9, 10, perhaps?

David Begnaud: And is that this the primary time you’re saying this publicly?

Karen Sanders: Sure, it’s.

Karen Sanders: However that has nothing to do with what Vincent did. That is two separate incidents. … David, give it some thought … if me and Keith had had consensual intercourse method, method earlier than, now why is he locking us within the trunk of a automotive? Why is he taking us down a mud highway?

However Bonus believes they needed to cowl up what occurred that evening.

Justin Bonus: It offers motive for why they might lie. … It exhibits that Karen at all times was hiding one thing from day one. … Keith was 18, Karen was 14.

Justin Bonus: So, what do they do? They blame a Black man.

David Begnaud: To be clear, was Keith the perpetrator that evening?

Sharon Sanders: No.

Sharon Sanders: He was a sufferer additionally. Keith was a sufferer —

Karen Sanders: That evening—

Sharon Sanders: He was not—

Karen Sanders: He was a sufferer. He stayed in that trunk the entire time.

I went to Keith Laborde’s home to talk with him about all of this. Nobody answered the door, so later, I known as him.


David Begnaud: Hi there, Keith? That is David Begnaud with CBS Information.

When reached by telephone, Keith, now 63 years previous, denied ever having intercourse along with his cousin, Karen. He stated they simply, “performed round like youngsters.” And he additionally insisted that no matter had occurred between him and Karen had nothing to do with what Vincent Simmons did that evening.

Keith Laborde: That goddamn n—– is responsible. I do not give a f— and yeah, he is a goddamn n—– and you’ll put that on TV. I ain’t afraid of him.

Regardless of the allegations regarding Karen and Keith, District Lawyer Charles Riddle says he believes the best man was convicted.

Charles Riddle: I am firmly satisfied that he is responsible. … I do not imagine that the cousin was the one.

However Bonus was extra decided than ever to see Vincent stroll free. And in April 2021, the district legal professional made a suggestion that will enable for simply that. Riddle stated he felt like Vincent had finished sufficient time.

Justin Bonus: Vincent may have walked proper out the door.

However there was a catch.

Justin Bonus: Vincent would have needed to been a intercourse offender although … Vincent turned that down and stated, “I’m not a intercourse offender. I did not do that. I’m harmless. I am not a intercourse offender.”

David Begnaud: What’d you suppose if you hung up the telephone—

Justin Bonus: I imply, that is it. We’ll conflict.

Bonus saved preventing — and in February 2022, he lastly acquired a listening to the place a decide would determine Vincent’s destiny as soon as and for all. The day of the listening to, as Karen and Sharon made their method into the courthouse, they paused to wish. When Vincent Simmons arrived in a jail van, he was carrying a Bible. A bunch of supporters greeted him. They had been cheering.

Vincent Simmons and David Begnaud
“Vincent, how are you feeling as we speak?” CBS Information’ David Begnaud requested Vincent Simmons as they walked in direction of the courtroom earlier than his listening to on February 14, 2022. “Feeling constructive. Like one thing good goes to occur,” Simmons replied.

CBS Information

Cameras weren’t allowed within the courtroom as Decide William Bennett delivered his determination.

David Begnaud: What did the decide determine?

Justin Bonus: He determined to present Vincent a brand new trial due to the constitutional violation that he did not obtain a good trial.

Vincent’s conviction was thrown out because of the proof that he himself had obtained nearly 30 years earlier — and the truth that his protection crew did not have it again in 1977. Decide Bennett made it clear although that he didn’t place fault on anybody for that. As a substitute, he discovered that the speediness with which the case went to trial made it seemingly that the unique district legal professional on the case, Eddie Knoll, did not even have all of the proof himself at the moment.

Judge William Bennett
The case holds further that means for Decide William Bennett him as a result of his father, now deceased, was one of many many judges who denied motions filed by Vincent over the previous years – earlier than Vincent had gained entry to the prosecution’s file.

CBS Information

David Begnaud: So simply to be clear, you imagine that in 1977, the police did not flip over key proof to the district legal professional?

Decide William Bennett: That is the one rationalization possible and logical after learning every little thing that I did. That is it.

David Begnaud: Are you blaming the police—

Decide William Bennett: No, I do not imagine anyone deliberately hid something. … It is simply the best way it occurred as a result of it was quick.

In a court docket affidavit, the unique DA, Eddie Knoll, stated he “didn’t cover or deny Simmons any proof,” nor did he “prosecute him due to bias.” And he continues to imagine that Vincent is responsible. And he is not the one one which feels that method. Present district legal professional Charles Riddle.

David Begnaud: Do you imagine a person who was convicted at a trial that was not truthful ought to’ve ever served a day in jail?

DA Charles Riddle: Legally?

David Begnaud: Legally.

DA Charles Riddle: OK, legally no.

David Begnaud: However he did.

DA Charles Riddle: Sure—

David Begnaud: 44 years.

DA Charles Riddle: —after which the decide determined that. Okay, let me let you know, he deserved to serve the 44 years.

David Begnaud: Why?

DA Charles Riddle: As a result of he is responsible.

Decide Bennett was cautious to say he has “no opinion on the guilt or innocence of Vincent Simmons.” Along with his determination, it was now as much as District Lawyer Riddle whether or not he needed to retry the case.

David Begnaud: You stood up and stated what?

DA Charles Riddle: I stated that “He served sufficient time,” and that, “We’re not gonna prosecute him once more”

Justin Bonus: Within the eyes of the individuals and the structure, he’s presumed harmless. And when Charles Riddle dismissed that case, that presumption of innocence carries.

Vincent Simmons freed after 44 years in jail


JUSTIN BONUS [in court to Simmons]: You are free, brother.

Vincent is a free man, however for Karen and Sharon, nothing has modified.

KAREN SANDERS [in the courtroom]: He went in responsible. He’s responsible now. And guess what? He’ll die responsible. So, I am, I am pleased. I acquired 44 years.

The twins say they settle for the decide’s determination, however they’re nonetheless harm by it.

Sharon Sanders: The authorized system did not simply fail him, it failed us in some ways additionally.

Whereas Vincent has his freedom, they are saying they nonetheless do not have theirs.

Karen Sanders: It is irritating as a result of nobody sees our bars. … They do not see our jail. … We nonetheless have our anxiousness. We nonetheless have our depressions. We nonetheless have our fears. … Our bars are actual. And for those who look deep sufficient, you possibly can see them.

Decide Bennett is sympathetic towards the ladies, however he’s assured in his determination. The case holds further that means for him as a result of his father, now deceased, was one of many many judges who denied motions filed by Vincent over the previous years. However that was earlier than Vincent had gained entry to the prosecution’s file.

Decide William Bennett: He and I had talked in regards to the Vincent Simmons case years in the past. … And I do know if he can be right here, he as we speak would have finished what I did.

David Begnaud: What’s in your coronary heart? As a result of I can see the emotion.

Decide William Bennett I did the best factor.

Simply hours after the decide delivered his determination, and proper earlier than the solar set, Vincent Simmons walked out of Angola. He went in when he was simply 25 years previous and was launched three days earlier than his seventieth birthday.

Justin Bonus and Vincent Simmons
Justin Bonus and Vincent Simmons.

CBS Information

Later that evening, he shared a celebratory meal along with his household and mates.

Vincent Simmons [making a toast]: That is going to freedom …

David Begnaud: What’s it like, being out of jail?

Vincent Simmons: Oh, man. It is, it is a pleasure that’s unexplainable, actually.

However with that pleasure, comes problem. Adjusting to life outdoors jail partitions has confirmed to be tough. A lot has modified since 1977.

Vincent Simmons: Ooh, man. … New expertise. I am identical to a bit of child, acquired to study.

David Begnaud: What are the easy issues that you just take pleasure in now?

Vincent Simmons: Respiration the free air … strolling outdoors … mainly it is freedom … to simply benefit from the second.

Vincent Simmons intends to return to court docket to hunt compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

Beneath Louisiana State legislation, if he’s unable to current clear and convincing proof of his innocence, he’s entitled to nothing.

Produced by Stephanie Slifer, Sarah Prior and Murray Weiss. Stephen A. McCain is the event producer. Hannah Vair is the sphere producer. Lauren Turner Dunn within the broadcast affiliate. CBS Information producers are T. Sean Herbert, Chris Weicher and Maryhelen Campa. Doreen Schechter is the producer-editor. Richard Barber and Marlon Disla are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the manager story editor. Judy Tygard is the manager producer.  

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