"One woman, he said, was a prostitute - he said he didn't have the money or drugs to get a girl," Simmons, 42, said of Churchill.
As for the other woman Churchill allegedly described to him, Simmons repeatedly recalled the accused saying that "he had to take her to the spot - someplace inside. That's all he said."
Churchill is charged with raping and strangling both women. Ellis, 19, was killed March 17, 1989. The body of Hanible, 33, was discovered that April 23 in a burned-out bar. Police found a shoestring around her neck and a sock in her mouth.
Simmons faced a series of tough questions from Defense Attorney Wendy Ramos.
"People in protective custody are in protective custody because they're snitches, right?" Ramos asked before detailing Simmons' extensive criminal record and multiple aliases, many of which he called "discrepancies."
Simmons either denied or said he could not remember charges of retail theft, assault, burglary, robbery, and driving under the influence, some as early as 1984.
Simmons said he could not give the exact date of his conversation with the defendant.
"He just started talking to me openly about the case," Simmons said. "I never asked him about it - we were just in the day room, talking."
Following Simmons' testimony, family members of the victims winced as the prosecutor, Gwenn Cujdik, read from the autopsy reports.
Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter said he was unsure of the evidence of rape in both cases, but set a formal arraignment date of July 16.
"It's been a long time," Cujdik said. "I think the families just hope to get some closure."