LUBBOCK, Texas — It has been 35 years since Tim Cole, a Texas Tech University student, was wrongfully convicted of rape.
Cory Session, Tim’s brother, said Tim was a veteran who was attending Texas Tech on the G.I. Bill to help pay for his schooling.
“When the call came that he had been arrested for aggravated rape it was disbelief,” said Session. “My mother took a flight immediately and made Tim’s bond and they flew home later that night.”
Session said by the time Tim and his mother made it home, they received a call from Mike Brown where he said there had been another rape and that they had picked him as the perpetrator.
“They picked the wrong one, but as we look back, they picked the right way to the dynamics to change the criminal justice system,” said Session.
Kevin Glasheen, an attorney who funded the Tim Cole statue and helped the family get compensation for the wrongful conviction, said the entire case was erroneous.
“The detective that did the lineup knew he wanted the young lady to pick Tim … and so he kind of suggested that she [pick him],” said Glasheen. “She said she wasn’t sure and they said, ‘Well we have to let him go if you’re not sure,’ so they really pressured her to be sure.”
After years of confinement, another prisoner by the name Jerry Wayne Johnson who was in jail for multiple murders, confessed to the rape Cole was convicted of doing.
And after an investigation – and after Cole’s death in 1999 – he was posthumously exonerated.
“In Tim’s case, he’s the first posthumous DNA exoneree in us history to be exonerated through DNA testing ,” Session said. “And we have factually proven that innocent people do die in prison,” said Session.
Session said his brother never lost hope, citing words Tim wrote in a letter to his sister who was a student at Texas Tech Law School at the time.
“After all of these things, people knew [Tim] was her brother so she wrote to Tim in prison, saying that she wanted to leave Texas Tech’s law school,” said Session, “And he wrote her back and said, ‘Do not leave Texas Tech Law School. I still believe in the justice system, even though it does not believe in me.'”
Cole died in prison in December of 1999 after an asthma attack.