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Pardon for Innocent Man Tim Cole, Who Died in Prison Before Exonerated, May Happen. Finally.

Tim Cole did not rape the Texas Tech student over in Lubbock, back in 1985.  Jerry Wayne Johnson, according to his own confession as well as DNA evidence, committed this crime. 

Didn’t matter.  Tim Cole was arrested, charged, convicted, and imprisoned for the girl’s rape.  One day, Tim Cole was a student with a future at Texas Tech University.  The next day, he was a criminal — and he never had his second chance. 

Tim Cole died from complications due to asthma, still maintaining his innocence, in 1999.  He was 39. 

Now, 11 years later, Tim Cole’s family still seeks justice on his behalf.  They want Tim Cole to be pardoned by the Governor, even if it will be posthumously.  At first, Governor Rick Perry said he couldn’t do it — that the Governor is only allowed to pardon in cases of treason or impeachment, and legally his hands were tied.   This, according to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The Governor May Still Issue a Pardon for Tim Cole

Now, The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles may open the way to the elusive pardon, based upon an application filed by the Innocence Project of Texas.  Included within that application is the official clearing of Tim Cole’s name by an Austin state district judge.  The Texas Board will then issue a recommendation that Cole be pardoned to Governor Perry, who has already implied he’s going to pardon Tim Cole based upon the Board’s recommendation.

The Tim Cole Act – One Good Result From This Travesty of Justice

While the Cole family hasn’t taken any compensation from the Tim Cole Act, one good thing that has resulted from their efforts to bring justice to Tim Cole has been the passage of the Tim Cole Act.  Under this law, wrongly convicted individuals are compensated by the State of Texas as follows:

  1. $80,000 for each year of incarceration; and
  2. $80,000 lifetime annuity (variables here on life expectancy and other things).

Condolences to the Tim Cole Family – and Congratulations, too

Continued sympathies to the family and loved ones of Tim Cole, especially his mother Ruby Session, and heartfelt congratulations on a fight well fought.  And, tip of the hat to Austin District Judge Charlie Baird (who has also served as a justice on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals) who had the integrity and courage to issue the first posthumous DNA exoneration judgment in the state’s history.


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