Monday, February 13, 2012

Historical marker commemorates Tim Cole false conviction

Reuters has the story of the new historical marker near Timothy Cole's grave site commemorating his false conviction, his death in prison, and his posthumous exoneration via DNA evidence. The article opens:
The first person in the United States to be exonerated posthumously on the basis of DNA evidence received a lasting tribute in his home state of Texas this week.

State officials and the family of the late Tim Cole unveiled the first Texas historical marker dedicated to an exonerated convict, located in a Fort Worth cemetery a few feet from the grave where Cole was buried in 1999.

Governor Rick Perry issued Texas' first posthumous pardon to Cole in 2010, over a decade after he died from complications from an asthma attack while serving time in prison for a rape he did not commit.

"We finally have something visual that people can see to remember Tim," Cory Session, Cole's brother, told Reuters. "We are very pleased and grateful that Tim's life and legacy will not be forgotten."

Post-conviction DNA testing has exonerated nearly 290 people in the United States since 1989, including 17 death row inmates, according the Innocence Project, which works to reverse wrongful convictions. It says that witness misidentification was a factor in nearly 75 percent of cases.

Of the DNA exonerations nationwide, over 40 have been in Texas, more than in any other U.S. state.

The Texas marker tells the story of how Cole was convicted in 1986 of raping a fellow student at Texas Tech University and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. An Army veteran, Cole served more than 13 years in prison, steadfastly insisting he did not commit the crime.


A Texas PO said...

I certainly hope that all law schools in the state use this as a key part of their lessons to law students. Maybe a required trip to Cole's grave site in order to receive the bar scores?

Tobi Lynn said...

Another interesting teaching case, not from Texas though, is the murder case from West Memphis, Ark. against the three men who came to be called The West Memphis Three. More innocent men put in prison for a crime they didn't commit. The state of Ark allowed them to make an Alford plea after being locked up for 18 years, instead of just exonerating them. Such a sad miscarriage of justice.

Anonymous said...

Texas PO, that's a very good idea and the list of mandatory visitors should include but not be limited to;

-Police/Sheriff's Deputies

-ADAs & All Investigators

-Candidates for Judge/Mayor/Gov.

-TDCJ Employees

-High School Field Trips (Boys & Girls)

-Makers & Suppliers of Pepper Spray to Corrections Depts.

-TBP&P Board Members & Clemency Section

-Probation & Parole Officers

-Victims Rights Groups

-LT. Gov.


-Criminal Defense Attorneys

-*Divorce & Will/Estate Specialist (*since it's okay for them to represent criminal defendants do very little or no work, plead out at lunch recess and walk away)...

Feel free to include your own and/or argue as to why someone should be exempt.
Name withheld to avoid BS from anyone thinking they shouldn't be forced to visit the grave site of a victim of Texas' injustice system. A state that refuses to investigate prior to bringing charges.

Anonymous said...

Medical examiners should be included on that list.

A Texas PO said...

Anon 12:16- Considering that probation officer training in this state is a complete joke, I'll take it. But my point was that the miscarriage of justice for Tim Cole was handled by lawyers. Sure, the cops zeroed in on him, but lawyers on both sides failed him. Lawyers should definitely be required to pay their respects.

Harry Homeless said...

You can view media I took at the event at my humble posting here:

It was a great day and a moving experience. I think visiting the marker has more of an effect on you than you would think.