Baird concluded that "the faulty work of the police and the misidentification produced by it was the primary reason why Tim Cole was wrongly convicted." But he expressed equal frustration with the courts for failing to rectify the wrong:
From the day he was falsely convicted Mr. Cole asserted his innocence. Through years of appeals and later effort, he told anyone who would listen that he had not committed the crime.The opinion also suggested that similar, future such situations might be prevented if lawmakers at the Lege approve legislation "mandating the use of fair practices in eyewitness identification procedures," improving access to the courts for innocence claims, and adequately compensating the falsely convicted, including "their survivors" in cases like Tim Cole's. Read the whole opinion, which I've uploaded onto a Google document.
Court officials did not listen. His appeals and writs were routinely denied and his pleas were ignored.
Worse, however, was the attitude of the courts to [the actual rapist Jerry] Johnson’s claim of guilt. As early as 1995- four years before Tim Cole died- Johnson tried to clear Tim Cole and admit to the rape of Michelle Mallin. His letters were ignored, set aside, and thrown away until one was received by the family of Tim Cole and the Innocence Project of Texas.
Up until that time, no official of the state had conducted any sort of investigation into the innocence of Tim Cole despite repeated pleas to do so.
Before the hearing, I had the pleasure of going to lunch with Cole's family and the crime victim, Michelle Mallin, who had come in from Fort Worth and from the coast, respectively, for the event. While we were waiting for our food, a fellow at the next table was looking on intently. I paid little attention until he stood up and came to present two lovely drawings he'd done - one of the members of Tim Cole's family who were at the table and one of Mallin and her husband, both with poetic inscriptions. He'd recognized who they were - perhaps overhearing our conversation - and spat out the sketches completely on the fly. Cole's nieces and nephews were especially delighted at the gesture. A cool, very Austin moment.
Today, Cole's mother and brother will be meeting with Governor Rick Perry about Timothy's case to request a posthumous pardon.
Check out coverage from AP, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, the Austin Statesman, the Dallas News, and the Fort Worth Star Telegram.