LUBBOCK, Texas – On September 17, 1986, Timothy Cole, a Texas Tech student and U.S. Army veteran, was convicted of the aggravated sexual assault of female student.
However, Cole was later found to be innocent.
“He was arrested and labeled as the Tech rapist,” said Cole’s younger brother Cory Session. “But ironically, those rapes had been going on prior to him getting there and one even occured after he bailed out of jail.”
September 17 was also Constitution Day.
“In the Preamble, it says one of the first things that we establish is justice,” said Session. “A man did not see justice, but saw the greatest tragedy of an injustice that anyone could imagine.”
Cole was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The victim, Michele Mallin, a white woman, told Lubbock Police the man who raped her was smoking during her attack. Cole was an asthmatic.
“It is a fear that lot of people in minority communities and poor communities still have,” said Session. “They’re afraid that police will arrest them, charge them, and they end up convicted of a crime they did not commit.”
According to Session, his brother always told the family, “I believe in the justice system, even though it does not believe in me.”
Cole’s asthma caused him to have a heart attack in prison on December 2, 1999. He died at 39 years old.
“I still wonder if he had not been arrested, what would his life have been,” said Session.
Years later, Jerry Wayne Johnson, a convicted felon already serving a life sentence for another crime, confessed to the 1985 Texas Tech sexual assaults.
In 2009, Lubbock County prosecutors decided to test his DNA and connected Johnson to the crimes, including the one that Cole had been convicted of.
Timothy Cole was exonerated of the crime and eventually became the first Texan in state history to recieve a posthumous pardon.
“Tim Cole. The innocent man convicted on lousy evidence,” said Session.