Cole attorney accuses police of destroying fingerprint, other mi - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/12/10

Cole attorney accuses police of destroying fingerprint, other mistakes

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By Tiffany Pelt - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The attorney of a man wrongfully convicted is asking the City of Lubbock for answers as to why evidence was ignored during his trail 24 years ago.

Timothy Cole was convicted in 1985 for raping a Texas Tech student. He died in prison in 1999 from complications of asthma. Later in 2008 DNA evidence cleared Cole and this year Governor Rick Perry granted Cole the state's first posthumous exoneration. 

The Cole family attorney Jeff Blackburn said the city has yet to answer many of the questions surrounding Cole's wrongful conviction and now points to documents with information newly released to the public.

"There are some things that we uncovered in our investigation that are very, very disturbing," said Blackburn. "For example there was a fingerprint taken from the victim's car. We know that fingerprint was actually destroyed by the Lubbock Police Department."

In a 16 page Opinion and Order of the Court, facts stated to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, states "Officers lifted at least one fingerprint from the victims car," it goes stating that "according to police the prints has no ID value and were destroyed."

In 1985 Cole was also accused of being the Tech Serial Rapist, but later in the documents under the title "Evidence That Was Consciously Ignored" it states "A fingerprint had been recovered from the car of one of the other victims." After being compared to Cole's "They did not match."

"I think there are a lot of problems in this investigation. A lot of big questions that have yet to be answered," said Blackburn. One of the problems Blackburn points to is how the victim Michele Mallin was misled into falsely identifying Cole.

The document states "Mr. Cole's picture looked markedly different than the others," when police showed Mallin several pictures to identify her attacker. It goes on to say "The photos shown to Ms. Mallin were suggestive, the procedures used to get her to identify Tim Cole were improper."

After the court concluded Cole was 100% innocent, the document states "Ms. Mallin who this court finds to be an exceptionally honest witness did her very best during the investigation. The police did not."

Even with so many questions, Cole's family and attorney have gotten very little answers from the City and those involved during the case. "All that the family has ever wanted in this case is to find out the truth," said Blackburn. "We're not going to go away. This family is not just going to pack up and blow away because these questions are going to remain until they get answered. The city of Lubbock has got to do something about that."

KCBD NewsChannel 11 contacted the City Attorney Sam Medina. Over the phone he said no one from the city would comment on Cole being wrongfully convicted but that records and documents are available through open request records.

To read the Court Opinion and Order (click here.)

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