Timothy Cole was arrested on the charge raping a Texas Tech student in 1985. While there was never any conclusive DNA evidence, the victim identified him during both a photo and physical lineup, and he was convicted Sentenced to 25 years, Cole was offered parole in exchange for his admittance of guilt. He refused, maintaining that he was innocent.
In 2008, DNA testing linked another individual, Jerry Wayne Johnson, to the rape, and he confessed.
It was too late for Timothy Cole, who died from asthma complications in 1999.
A public apology for “the system’s failure” from former district attorney, Ken Anderson, did little to mend Timothy Cole’s family’s hearts. They pushed harder.
Through the Innocence Project of Texas, Timothy Cole’s family was able to get a full exoneration for him, and Governor Rick Perry issued a posthumous pardon in 2010.
According to the Innocence Project of Texas, this is the first time in state history that a person has been posthumously exonerated and it was also the first time a “Court of Inquiry” was used to seek justice on behalf of an innocent person.
Cole’s family wasn’t done. They took things a step further and petitioned for legislation to prevent future wrongful convictions. The state legislature formed the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions, which is making changes for reforming everything from eyewitness identification practices to handling of scientific evidence by the courts. The Timothy Cole Advisory Panel’s eyewitness identification reform also resulted in the passing of HB 215, which requires all Texas law enforcement to implement written eyewitness identification policies based on proven best practices.
In addition, the state legislature also passed the Tim Cole Act, which increased the amount given to those who are wrongfully accused, and their families: $80,000 for every year spent in prison.
Now, after thirty years of pain and suffering for the Cole family, the city of Lubbock is commemorating the life of Timothy Cole with a statue.
Kevin Glasheen took charge of the commemorating statue and his firm Glasheen, Valles and Inderman L.L.P. funded the operation. The statue has inscribed, beneath Cole’s feet, “And Justice for All,” encompassing the true message the statue is trying to convey.
The ten-foot-tall bronze statue of Cole sends a big message about how we can continue to improve upon our justice system. It stands facing the Tech law school in honor of a man who would rather live the life of a convicted rapist then let into the free world as a sex offender—Ruby Cole Session.