On Monday, March 1, 2010, on the eve of the gubernatorial election, Rick Perry issued the state of Texas’ first posthumous pardon to Tim Cole. Cole was convicted in the 1985 rape of a Texas Tech University student in Lubbock. In 2001, at the age of 39, Cole died in prison after an asthma attack led to cardiac arrest; eight years later the Army veteran was cleared by DNA evidence of his involvement.
In 2009, State district Judge Charlie Baird, the recent recipient of TCADP’s Courage Award for a commitment to justice and fairness, pronounced Cole innocent after an exoneration hearing, mistaken witness identification, questionable suspect lineups and a faulty police investigation which led to Cole’s wrongful convection.
According to Perry, a pardon could not be issued when DNA testing cleared Cole’s name because of a law not clarified by the attorney general until January 2010. Such clarification paved the way for Cole’s posthumous pardon as well as the possibility for pardons of other former inmates falsely convicted under the state.
Perry issued the following statement: “The State of Texas cannot give back the time he spent in prison away
from his loved ones, but today I was finally able to tell her we have cleared his name, and hope this brings a measure of peace to his family.”