Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Man who served 13 years in prison for rape he didn't commit pardoned posthumously

Somewhere, Tim Cole must be smiling to see the word "rapist" in quotation marks in the following headline. Too bad the pardon came 24 years too late, after he'd already served 13 years in prison and died there.

Texas 'rapist' granted state's first posthumous pardon

The governor of the US state of Texas, Rick Perry, has posthumously pardoned a man who had died in jail after being wrongly convicted of rape.

It is the first time Texas has issued a posthumous pardon.

In 1986, Tim Cole was sentenced for the rape of a student. He always maintained he was innocent, right up to his death.

He had spent 13 years in prison when he died of an asthma attack in 1999. His innocence was proved by DNA tests nearly 10 years later.

Mr Cole spurned an offer of early parole as it would have meant accepting guilt.

Years after his death, his family demanded DNA tests after they received a letter from a convicted rapist confessing to the crime.

It transpired the man had confessed earlier. He had sent letters to court officials four years before Mr Cole died - but the admission was never followed up.

Mr Perry said he hoped it would give Mr Cole's family a measure of peace.

Mr Cole's mother told the BBC she was ecstatic on hearing the news - as her son had always wanted to be exonerated.

He had written in a letter that he always believed in the justice system, even if the justice system had not believed in him.