Rick Perry plans to issue a posthumous pardon to Timothy Cole, who died in prison before he could prove his innocence. Now, that Perry has acknowledged and plans to use the power to grant posthumous pardons, the door is open for him or future governors to issue pardons to innocent people already executed, such as Todd Willingham, Carlos De Luna or others, if they are convinced of their innocence.
Gov. Rick Perry announced Thursday he would pardon Timothy Cole, a Fort Worth man who died while serving time in prison for a rape he did not commit, as soon as he receives a recommendation from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.The announcement came hours after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott cleared the way with an opinion that the governor had the legal authority to grant a posthumous pardon.“We’ve been seeking justice for Tim for almost 25 years,” said Cory Session, Cole’s brother. “Our whole deal was to do exactly what in many of Tim’s letters he wrote: ‘I want vindication, exoneration and a full pardon.’ This was the final act that he wanted.”Cole, whose cause has been championed by state lawmakers and others, was found guilty in the 1985 rape of a Texas Tech student and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His conviction was based in part on the victim’s identification of him as her attacker and what a judge later called faulty police work and a questionable suspect lineup. The victim later fought to help clear Cole’s name.Cole died in prison in 1999, at age 39, after an asthma attack caused him to go into cardiac arrest.Following repeated confessions by another man, Cole was cleared by DNA evidence in 2008, and a state judge exonerated him in 2009. His family pursued a pardon, but Perry had said he did not have the authority to grant one posthumously.That changed Thursday, in what Perry called “good news.”In response to a request for a legal opinion by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, Abbott noted that upon recommendation by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, Perry is constitutionally entitled to grant pardons in all criminal cases, except treason and impeachment.
Below is a video of Timothy Cole’s brother, Cory Session, speaking at the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin on October 24, 2009.
When I first heard the story about Tim Cole, it may me want to write about it. So I contacted the Innocence Project of Texas, Tim Cole's mother and family, researched the original transcripts and police investigative reports, conducted numerous interviews. Out of this came my forthcoming book titled A PLEA FOR JUSTICE: The Timothy Cole Story, published by Eakin Press, and set for release about May 01, 2010. For more information, go to http://www.timothybriancole.com
My thanks to this blog for keeping this issue in front of the American public. Sincerely, Fred B. McKinley