In the early hours of July 8, 2000 Antonio Simmons was at a tavern in Milwaukee. He got into an argument with James Gray. The argument ended when Gray hit Simmons in the head with a glass, cutting his head. The bouncer came to break up the altercation, and threw Simmons and Gray out, along with Gray's sister, Precious Gray. The bouncer made the Grays leave first and kept Simmons inside for up to 15 minutes to ensure that they had left.
The Grays got into Precious's car along with a friend, Andrea Crawley, and apparently hung around nearby for a while. A few minutes after they left the bar, a white car approached their vehicle and someone fired multiple shots into their car. Although Andrew was not hit, Precious was hit once and James was hit multiple times.
As a result, Simmons was charged with 2 counts of first-degree reckless endangerment while armed and one count of second-degree reckless endangerment while armed.
At Trial, the bouncer testified about the altercation and having thrown out Simmons and the Grays. He then claimed that when Simmons left the bar, he saw him get into a white 2-door Chevrolet, and drive away up to Gray's car. He got out and stood outside in a well-lit intersection, and fired multiple shots into Gray's car.
Contrary to this testimony, Andrea Crawley testified that she saw Simmons shoot at their car from INSIDE his car without getting out.
James Gray testified to a third different version of events, claiming that he saw Simmons exit the white car before firing the shots.
Crime scene information and other testimony were presented by the prosecutor, from Police Detective Kevin Armbruster, who has been caught withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense in other cases and is a proven perjurer. See, e.g. Avery v City of Milwaukee (7th Cir., 2017) 847 F3d 433.
The Police questioned the Grays, Andrea and Ramsey the bouncer, on the day of the shooting and they all gave conflicting statements as to the bar fight and shooting. Precious and Andrea never told the police in their statements that they saw the shooter, yet when they testified that they had, Trial counsel never cross-examined them about their statements, or sought to introduce the statements into evidence at the Trial.
Trial Counsel never advised Simmons that he was entitled to testify on his own behalf under the constitution, so he never got to tell his side of the story at Trial. However, the defense presented the testimony of John Lindsey, who testified that he and Simmons came to the bar together in Lindsey’s red Oldsmobile Cutlass. About 15 minutes after the fight, the Grays left the tavern, Lindsey helped Simmons out of the bar to his own car, the red Oldsmobile Cutlass and they left. They headed for the hospital because Simmons was bleeding profusely from his head wound. As they headed down Capital Drive, he saw gun fire coming from a white car in his rear view mirror. They eventually decided not to go to the hospital because of outstanding warrants so he took Simmons home.
Despite the glaring conflicts in testimony, and the fact that Simmons proved he was elsewhere, the jury voted to convict him of the three charges and he was ultimately sentenced to serve 26 years in prison, with 13 years of parole supervision thereafter.
Antonio Simmons #238582
Fox Lake Correctional Institution
P O Box 200
Fox Lake, WISCONSIN 53933
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AFTER THE TRIAL
Immediately after the Trial and before the sentencing, Simmons filed a Motion for a New Trial in the court, based upon ineffective assistance of Counsel presented in the form of a sworn Affidavit from Simmons then-girlfriend Zakea Jones, in which she described the entire scene of the crime, and admitted that it had been she who had fired the shots into Grays' car, and that she had done so because she had seen James Gray with a gun, and was scared of him. Ms. Jones stated that a person named "C-Note" had been with her in the car. Jones had told Trial Counsel that she was responsible before the Trial, and that it had been C-Note in the car with her, yet Counsel failed to present her testimony or evidence at Trial.
Simmons also presented two sworn Affidavits from additional witnesses, Sheri Purifoy and Kina Jackson, who had also been present in the tavern and confirmed that they had seen Simmons leave with John Lindsay, and be helped into the red Cutlass.
The Court rejected the motion, stating that the additional witnesses were "merely cumulative" and that he decided that he did not believe Ms. Jones. Notably, the physical evidence confirmed Ms Jones' statement, because Officers Marlon Davis and Larry White had chased the white car from the scene and, when it stopped, they found Jones in the driver’s seat. She confessed to the shooting and stated that “C-Note had fled from the car”. Despite having this evidence, Simmons was prosecuted anyway, and his lawyer failed to present this evidence to the Jury.
The judge then enhanced and increased Simmons sentence under the guise of stating that Simmons had attempted to "manipulate" Ms. Jones.
Following sentencing, Simmons filed a "Post-Conviction Petition" in which he presented sworn Affidavits from four additional bar patrons, Elijah Brooks, Toronto Wooten, Clebern Peel and Tawanda Jones, who had witnessed the altercation and all swore that they saw Simmons leave with John Lindsey and get into the red Cutlass.
The judge denied relief, claiming that all of the witnesses "appeared to be" friends of Simmons and were, thus "less than credible". This, even though Affidavits are sworn to, under penalty of perjury and a false Affidavit is subject to punishment for the affiant.
After an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a Federal Habeas Corpus Writ in 2009, it occurred to Simmons that all evidence found in the abandoned white 2-door Chevy that was testified about at trial, including a baseball cap, bottles of alcohol, a head wrap and a pair of shoes, along with some bullet casings, could be tested for DNA, for Ms. Jones or "C-Note".
Simmons filed a Post- Conviction DNA testing motion which the judge rejected in July 2020, on the grounds that the police (including Detective Armbruster, the perjurer) had conveniently "gotten rid of" all of the evidence except the bullet casing, which, even if they did not have Simmons DNA, the judge said, would only prove that "someone else loaded the gun for him".
Not only is Simmons innocent, but the court has been presented with evidence proving it, as well as proving who did it, yet they refuse to acknowledge it.
APRIL 2021 – CASE UPDATE
The Wisconsin Supreme Court did not take Antonio Simmons case. His attorney is in the process of drafting a State Writ of Habeas Corpus.