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Crime News: Judge Charlie Baird May Exonerate a Dead Man and Give Justice to Tim Cole

Tim Cole is dead.

And you should know that Tim Cole died with integrity, consistently maintaining he was innocent of the crime for which he was accused.

Now, it may be time that he finally receives justice.

Tim Cole Took the Hard Road – He Went to Jail Rather Than Deny His Innocence

Before we go into the details of what may be happening this week, think about this. Tim Cole was a young man, only 22 years old, attending Texas Tech University when he was arrested and charged with the rape of Michele Mallin.

It would have been easy — so easy, think about how the prosecutors tried to persuade him — to take a plea bargain, admit to guilt, and get probation. Tim Cole refused. He took the hard road, because he maintained he was innocent.

Later, after he was convicted and sent to prison, once again Tim Cole faced a tempting choice: admit his guilt to the parole board, and get his freedom. Once again, Tim Cole steadfastly refused. He did this — refusing the parole board’s offer — FOUR times. Again, he took the hard road, because he maintained he was innocent.

Think about that: Tim Cole chose to stay in prison on four separate occasions rather than just say he was guilty and get out on parole.

Would you do that, in his shoes? Could you do that?

Tim Cole Died at the Age of 39, After Spending 17 Years Behind Bars

In 1999, Tim Cole died at the age of 39 of complications from asthma. He’d spent 17 years behind bars rather than admit he raped Michele Mallin because Mr. Cole wouldn’t admit to a crime for which he maintained he was innocent.

Only now, maybe now, will Justice Serve Tim Cole

This Thursday, Austin District Judge Charlie Baird (formerly of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals) will hear arguments from the Innocence Project that Tim Cole should be posthumously exonerated and their case will be strong: DNA evidence supports Tim Cole’s consistent claims of innocence. DNA points to another man.

Even the victim wants Justice for Tim Cole

Now 44 years old, Michele Mallin has voiced her support for the exoneration of Tim Cole. At the time of trial, she asserts that she assumed that there was other evidence beside her finger-pointing at Defendant Tim Cole to support his guilt. She says that the prosecutors back then should have done a better job.

As it stands, the rape victim’s testimony that Tim Cole was her attacker was the only evidence against him, and that proved to be enough to send him to the prison where he remained until he died.

And we all know how reliable eyewitness testimony can be. (Cough, cough, cough.) (Something to ponder: why’d the D.A.’s office, way back then, think that they had enough to go to trial in this case with just this evidence? Rat, there’s a rat somewhere …. Actually, a pack of rats. Go read all the background on the trial of this case in the sources below for details.)

Lubbock Judge Refuses Tim Cole’s Case, Austin Judge Charlie Baird Takes It Up

Admittedly, the Tim Cole case will be the first case where a dead man is exonerated because of DNA evidence. (It’s going to be a procedural dance to get this done.) That’s okay with Austin District judge Charlie Baird, who took up the gauntlet after the Lubbock County courts nixed the idea.

Quoting Judge Baird (in the Austin American Statesman):

“I am disappointed that the courts in Lubbock County did not think that there was sufficient basis to conduct a hearing,” Baird said. “I think it is incumbent upon a judge somewhere in Texas to pick up this case and give the Cole family a fair hearing and to restore the good name of their child.”

Ditto, Judge.

Judge Baird: A Refreshing Change to the Usual Reports on Texas Judges

While all too often, the bad acts of Texas judges reveal themselves and find their way into posts on this blog, it is a refreshing and joyous change to find a Texas district judge who is willing to fight for justice in this way.

Kudos and tipping the hat to Gentleman Judge Charlie Baird, and heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of Tim Cole – especially his 72 year old mother, Ruby Cole Session – along with great good wishes that finally, the name of Tim Cole will be recognized as belonging to a man of integrity, honesty, and innocence.


Austin American Statesman

USA Today

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