48 Hours on ID is investigating the case of Vincent Simmons, who was sent to prison for the attempted aggravated rape of twin sisters Karen and Sharon Sanders.
On May 9, 1977, the Sanders sisters, who were 14 at the time, told police officials that they were at a gas station in Marksville, Louisiana, with their older cousin when Simmons approached them.
Simmons asked for a ride, and their cousin agreed to take him where he wanted to go.
During the drive, the twins stated that Simmons told them to turn onto Little California Road, which was a dirt road.
It was there that they claim Simmons ordered their cousin to get in the trunk before he raped them.
Before he let them go, the twins said Simmons threatened them, which is why they kept the attack a secret for two weeks.
After reporting the incident, Simmons was picked up by police on May 23, 1977, as he was walking down the street.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
Twin sisters identified Vincent Simmons in a lineup
While in handcuffs, officers transported Simmons to the sheriff’s office, where he was put in a lineup.
When the twins identified him as the suspect, he was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted aggravated rape, a crime the then-25-year-old said he did not commit.
Following a two-day trial, a jury found Simmons guilty without any physical evidence linking him to the crime.
Medical records showed that the twins did not show any signs of sexual assault.
On July 28, 1977, a judge sentenced Simmons to 100 years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary—50 years for each twin.
Vincent Simmons tried multiple times to get a new trial
When Simmons received a copy of his case in 1993, he found evidence that could prove his innocence.
He learned that in an initial police statement, one of the twins allegedly referred to her attacker by the N-word and said, “All blacks look alike to me.”
They claim they didn’t identify their attacker by name because they were afraid.
Simmons hoped he would get a new trial after presenting that evidence to the parole board, but they rejected it as well as 15 other appeals.
In 2020, Simmons teamed up with an attorney and a private investigator to help overturn his conviction.
The private investigator interviewed a relative, who claimed that the twins’ cousin admitted that they did not encounter Simmons or any other black man on the night of the attack.
Vincent Simmons was released from prison after charges were dismissed
During a hearing, a judge granted Simmons a new trial, but instead of retrying him, the district attorney’s office decided, along with the twins, to dismiss the charges.
On February 14, 2022, Simmons was released from prison, three days before his 70th birthday.
Prosecutors claim that although Simmons was released and his charges were dropped, that doesn’t mean that he is innocent.
They claim there is enough evidence that would lead to another conviction, but putting the twins through another trial wouldn’t be ideal.
48 Hours on ID airs Mondays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.