The family of Tim Cole of Fort Worth, Texas found reason to finally celebrate last week. Cole is the first man to receive the state's first posthumous pardon based on a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles after a judge found that without a doubt Cole did not commit the crimes for which he was convicted. Governor Rick Perry signed the pardon last week for the man who died in 1999 in prison while serving a twenty-five year sentence for an aggravated sexual assault from 1985 that he did not commit.
Tim Cole was a student in Lubbock who maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest. He became a suspect after he was identified by a woman in connection with a string of attacks that had taken place in the area. A shattering 2008 DNA test proved that Tim Cole was not the rapist in the case, while the test implicated convicted rapist Jerry Wayne Johnson who confessed to the rape in several letters. Johnson can not be convicted in the rape since the statute of limitations has expired. According to state officials, the evidence was overwhelming that Cole was wrongfully imprisoned.
The case of aggravated sexual assault of a Texas Tech student has dragged on in the Texas judicial system for over twenty years and for the Cole family, most of whom still live in the Fort Worth area, it has been an uphill battle. The Innocence Project of Texas supported the family by championing Tim Cole's case. Governor Perry also became close with Cole's mother Ruby Session and was thrilled to help provide her and the rest of her family with a sense of closure. The family is additionally eligible for state recompense of over $1 million for Cole's 13 years of wrongful incarceration.