Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jonathan Gonzales

Angola prison, the largest prison in the world. Home to five thousand prisoners that are watched by fifteen hundred guards. One of the individuals is named Vincent Simmons. He was convicted of two rapes in the 1970’s and he was sentenced to prison for 100 years. In the movie Shadow of a Doubt, we see that there are some falsehoods in the case against Vincent Simmons. He looks like a guilty man and his past proves that he has done many things that are bad. But I do not believe that he was guilty of that crime he was convicted of. The facts that were withheld in the case, I believe, would of exonerated him of the crime. One of the girls was not even raped at all, as seen in the doctor’s report that never made it to the judge. Also he was the only one that had handcuffs in the lineup. Even though the cops say that he did not have them on during the lineup, you are supposed to hand cuff them outside of the room. Another thing that seems fishy to me is that the women refused to meet until a long duration of time passed. This could mean that they were rehearsing what they would say, why else would you refuse to meet for such a meeting. People may argue they do not want to go through the pain again. But if you heard that someone was trying to make a film to free the man who raped you, I would believe you would be the first in line to tell your story. One other thing is if you were in prison for so long, why would you still claim to be innocent? Even after all the rehab clinics that they have to attend to admit that they are guilty, he still says that he is innocent. I may not know if he is actually innocent of the crime, but with the information that was provided to me in the video, I believe that there was not enough evidence to convict Vincent Simmons of the two rapes and sentenced to 100 years in prison.

A Statement from Marian Bultman-Wezenberg regarding Vincent's arrest (This is a must-read).

Things which lead to Vincent’s arrest:

On Sunday May 22nd 1977, two weeks after the alleged rapes, the “victims” Karen and Sharon Sanders reported the crime. At 6:05 they were interrogated by the sheriff at the police station. In line 79 of the May 22nd Karen asked the sheriff, “Well you want us to begin {with the} walk from my brother-in-law’s house to Keith’s house and all that stuff.” If you read the interrogation statement carefully and namely the part where the sheriff is asking her about the family {line 33-56}, you see that she is not speaking at all about a brother-in-law. She didn’t start her statement from the part where they walked from their brother-in-law’s house as the sheriff requested in line 75. The sheriff agreed with Karen starting her statement from the part where her cousin Keith came to her grandmother’s house {line 79} and not from her brother-in-law’s house, whoever that might be. 
In that statement Karen and Sharon never mentioned the name of their alleged rapist and Sharon said “All blacks look alike to me.” Very surprising and strange that she was able to pick Vincent out of the line-up. 

In her interrogation statement {line 388}Karen said, “When we first saw him you called him by name.” So you can assume that they {Karen and Sharon} saw him {their alleged rapist}and that the sheriff was also around and that the sheriff knew this person. That can only have happened in the police station on May 22nd 1977, because that was the date they reported the crime. It could not have been Vincent who they saw at the police station because he was picked up on the street the very next day by the police. 

The girls’ cousin, Keith Laborde, gave his very first statement on Monday May 23rd 1977 and he didn’t mention any names. 

Now the D.A. is saying he is convinced that Vincent is guilty based upon highly dubious and questionable grounds. Judge for yourself.

I said to this D.A.: “Your knowledge of Vincent’s story is probably colored and one-sided. You know as well as I do that they never conducted a proper investigation.”

Some quotes, opinions, assumptions, and beliefs from the D.A., Mr. Charles Riddle, based upon my correspondence with him:
• I took over this office thinking that was true, till I reviewed the “entire” file, which you seem to ignore. 
• At least twice a year I speak to Keith Laborde and he was the witness that that press could never get to go on the air or he chose not to. His story is quite revealing. If I thought for one second that Vincent was innocent, I would agree to a new trial.
• Keith Laborde is solid as ever and has seen how his cousins are treated and I understand why he will not talk to the press. He will not speak to the press, because he has seen how all of this was twisted. 
• He has given me an oral statement and the evidence is overwhelming.
• I have gone far beyond what was legally required and met with minority groups over this very case. One group had one hundred people there to talk to me about a new trial. Several have come to me since then and told me privately that they will not help him anymore because of information that they found out about the case.
• Based upon your comments, you would be shocked at how fair we are towards defendants if you ever were to attend a trial.
• I also understand that the U.S. has a record of messing up in some cases. I can tell you that many more guilty people go free than innocent ones get convicted in this country.
• The documentary does not mention the fact that Vincent tried to shoot one of the deputies from mere feet from the officer. They don’t mention the testimony of Keith although it is there. The show would not have been as one-sided if just those two facts were mentioned.
• I have talked to hundreds of people about this case. After telling them of just those two facts, many walk away with a different opinion. Just because our country has had a record of some injustice, does not make Vincent innocent. Rarely, if ever, will Vincent talk about the facts of the crime. He always focuses on how he did not get a fair trial.

Vincent never received the Voir Dire transcripts. The D.A. doesn’t have them in his file. Were they perhaps never recorded? It shows again how they deal with justice in Marksville, Louisiana. 

Well it is very easy to say that I failed to review the entire file. I have read all the information, I met with his lawyer and spoke with several people involved. One can question whether Keith is as solid as the D.A. is saying. He has a drinking problem and mental problems. It was not the documentary filmmakers who chose not to question Keith, but he himself who refused to cooperate with the documentary. The filmmakers were afraid he would have a nervous breakdown (perhaps problems with his conscience) and it was Keith who threatened to shoot the documentary makers if they returned to his place. That said, how on earth is Keith able to judge that the documentary makers are twisting everything if said documentary had yet to be filmed? 

If the three-decade-old oral statement is that overwhelming then why was it not used years ago? It is very convenient to now use it as a smoke screen.

If there is a group of over one hundred people who are asking for a new and fair trial, and just a few who want otherwise, since when is the voice of the minority the deciding factor in a democracy?

The D.A. is focusing on the statement of Keith Laborde, but as you can read for yourself the very first statement he gave was on Monday May 23rd, 1977, the day they arrested Vincent and not even then did Keith mention Vincent’s name. The very first time he mentioned his name was during the trial. 

It has never been proven that Vincent committed the crime. When the law officials need a scapegoat, they can easily find one. 

If they still treat the defendants the way they treated Vincent, it would shocking. The fact that many more guilty people go free than innocent people are behind bars doesn’t mean that the judicial system is working fairly. To say this is simply missing the point, and it is false reasoning.

It is nonsense to say that the documentary is not mentioning the shooting in the police station. If you have seen the documentary you can see for yourself. And as far as Keith’s statement is concerned, he was the one who didn’t want to be a part of the documentary. 

It is not strange that Vincent is not speaking about the facts of the rape if he didn’t commit them. All you can do is focus on the trial and the unfair way it was carried out. Again, it is all such a twisted way of thinking on the part of the D.A.