24 years after he was convicted of raping a college student, Timothy Cole was finally exonerated of the crime. Last week, a judge ordered that Cole’s criminal record be expunged after DNA evidence proved that he was innocent, as he has always maintained. Unfortunately, the exoneration comes too late for Cole who died from asthma complications in 1999 at age 39. He was serving a 25-year prison sentence for a crime he did not commit.
DNA findings are now linking the rape to Jerry Wayne Johnson, who is already serving a lifetime prison sentence for more than one rape crime. On Friday, he admitted to raping the young woman. He is asking the victim for forgiveness.
Ruby Cole Session, Cole’s mother, expressed gratitude that her son’s name has been cleared. The rape victim, Michele Malin, has also come forward to clear his name. She is now 44.
Malin had identified Cole out of a photo lineup, during a live lineup, and again at his criminal trial. She says that when her case was under investigation, officials had portrayed Cole as a violent criminal.
It is reportedly not uncommon for investigators and police to manipulate lineups or for witnesses to identify a suspect who looks like the perpetrator-especially if the real criminal is not present.The dead man’s family now wants the Texas governor to issue a formal pardon.
In an unrelated case, another man was released from a Texas prison last month when DNA evidence also proved that he was serving a 99-year prison sentence for a crime he did not commit. Charles Chatman was convicted of aggravated sexual assault 28 years ago. He is the 15th inmate to be set free in Dallas County in the wake of new DNA evidence.
In Massachusetts, DNA evidence was also a key factor in exonerating Anthony Powell who was convicted of rape and kidnapping after serving more than 12 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Powell’s conviction was vacated in 2004. Last year, Massachusetts police arrested Jerry Dixon for this crime and three others after he took a DNA test.
Rape crimes can be tough cases to prove and the wrong person be charged with a crime he or she did not commit.
Judge clears dead Texas man of rape conviction, Yahoo.com, February 7, 2009
DNA evidence frees Texas man after 26 years in jail for rape, USA Today, January 3, 2008
Innocent man finally finds justice, Boston Herald, July 18, 200i
Related Web Resources:
The Innocence Project
New Efforts Focus on Exonerating Prisoners in Cases Without DNA Evidence, NY Times, February 7, 2009
In Massachusetts, our Boston sexual crimes law firm would like to offer you a free consultation. Do NOT talk to authorities without an experienced criminal defense lawyer present.