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Man freed from prison has his first birthday cake in 44 years

Man celebrates 70th birthday after release from prison
Man celebrates 70th birthday after release from prison 01:55

It's been more than four decades since Vincent Simmons has had a birthday cake — candles to blow out and make a wish. Simmons entered prison in 1977, when he was just 25 years old. He walked out three days before his 70th birthday.

Vincent Simmons
Make a wish! Vincent Simmons blows out his birthday candles as he celebrates his first birthday in 44 years as a free man. CBS News

"What's it like, being out of prison?" "48 Hours" contributor and CBS Mornings lead national correspondent David Begnaud asked Simmons.

"Oh, man. It's a joy that is unexplainable, really," he replied.

One of the first things Simmons did as a free man was leave the state of Louisiana and everything it represents for him.

Begnaud asked, "Do you want to go back?"

"No. Don't wanna go back," Simmons said. "I don't have nothing in Louisiana, nothing but pain and suffering. … So why would I wanna go back there, you know? I'm good."

A judge vacated Simmons' convictions for attempted aggravated rape of twin sisters Karen and Sharon Sanders. The judge ruled that Vincent did not get a fair trial – he did not make a finding though as to whether or not Simmons is innocent or guilty. His current attorney, Justin Bonus, says there was never any physical evidence.

"There's no hairs, no fibers, no blood, no sweat, no semen. There's nothing," Bonus said.

Vincent Simmons
Vincent Simmons enjoying his freedom in a park just three days after he was released from prison in February 2022. CBS News

Since his release, Simmons has been enjoying catching up on everything he's missed. So much has changed since 1977.

"Ooh, man. … New technology. I'm just like a little baby, got to learn," Simmons said as he studied a cellphone.

But it is all joyful.

"What are the simple things that you enjoy now?" Begnaud asked.

"Breathing the free air … walking outside … basically it's freedom …  to just enjoy the moment," said Simmons.

Begnaud's full report on Simmons' case, "Please Don't Tell,"  airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS News Streaming Network. Download the CBS News app on your phone or connected TV.   

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