LUBBOCK, Texas (NewsNation Now) — A statue now standing at Texas Tech University honors a wrongfully convicted former student.
Timothy Cole was a 26-year-old Army veteran when he studied business at Texas Tech University in 1985. He was wrongfully convicted of raping a fellow student. At the time, investigators said Cole fit the suspect’s description.
Cole’s brother, Cory Session, said other students reported rapes around the same time Cole was living in Fort Worth, Texas, which was hundreds of miles away from the school.
“September 17th was the day he was convicted for the aggravated sexual assault of a fellow Tech student,” said Session. “September 17th is also Constitution Day and in the Preamble, it says one of the things that we establish and it is the first thing, and that is to establish justice. And for a man who did not see justice, but saw the greatest tragedy of an injustice that anyone could imagine”
In 1986 a judge sent Cole to prison for 25 years. In 1999 while still prison, Cole died of a heart attack.
Four years earlier, in 1995, another inmate named Jerry Wayne Johnson confessed to rapes on the campus of Texas Tech.
In 2008, investigators used DNA technology to confirm the confessions leading to Cole’s exoneration, 20 years after his conviction.
During his time in jail, Cole told his brother he believed in the justice system.
Shortly before his death, he received a $14,000 check from the Army after officials miscalculated his pay. His brother later learned that Tim gave all the earnings to charity.
Cole’s family said all he ever wanted was to pursue the American dream at Texas Tech University, but instead he lived an American nightmare.