The Legislature took on a somber tone Wednesday as lawmakers honored the family of a man who died in prison, only to have DNA testing show years later that he did not commit the rape he was convicted of. Tim Cole and his relatives for years claimed he was innocent in the rape of a Texas Tech University student in 1985. But until DNA from the crime scene was tested last year, no one else believed them. Cole died in prison in 1999 at the age of 38. His family will ask an Austin judge on Today to overturn the conviction. Cole’s family visited the House and Senate as both chambers passed resolutions honoring Cole. A few of them wiped tears from their eyes.
“It is a sad story, a story of a young man with all the hope in the world,” said Sen. Robert Duncan, a Lubbock Republican. “A story of a young man whose life was cut off, literally, by an error in the criminal justice system.”
The resolutions noted that Cole refused to plead guilty in exchange for probation. And once in prison, he refused to say he did it when it could have earned him parole. He also declined to attend his stepfather’s funeral because he didn’t want to attend in shackles. Cole refused to confess to a crime he didn’t commit, said his brother, Cory Session. “He said he’d rather serve his entire 25-year sentence. That’s courage and conviction a lot of people don’t have,” Session said. If the Austin judge rules the conviction should be overturned, it would be first step toward earning a pardon from the governor and having the criminal record expunged, Session said. According to attorneys for the Innocence Project of Texas, Cole’s case would be the first posthumous DNA exoneration in the state.
via Austin Local News.
More on NPR:
NPR’s Tony Cox continues the conversation about Timothy Cole’s case with his mother, Ruby Session, and Michele Mallin, the rape victim whose testimony helped secure Cole’s conviction.