By James Clark | email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The fight over Timothy Cole's wrongful conviction appears to be far from over as both the City of Lubbock and the Innocence Project of Texas seemed to be posturing for a lengthy legal fight.
Project Attorney Jeff Blackburn and Cole's brother Cory Sessions both appeared before Lubbock City Council Thursday morning demanding answers. It turned into a polite argument between Blackburn and City Councilman Paul R. Beane.
Cole was falsely accused of a 1985 rape near the Texas Tech campus. After he died in prison, DNA proved conclusively that Cole was innocent. This year Governor Rick Perry granted Cole the first ever posthumous exoneration in Texas.
"Whether a building collapses or a bridge falls apart, or a plane goes down, it's incumbent on Government … to find out what happened," said Blackburn. "The same is true in criminal cases."
Blackburn went on to say that the Cole case has become one of the most important cases in all of Texas criminal justice.
"What I'm suggesting is that if we can get past all the anger and the rancor … I think Lubbock can move forward with best practices for eyewitness identification."
But after telling city officials that they need to own up to a mistake and ensure it never happens again, Councilman Beane fired back. "You're here for friendship and cooperation?" Beane asked. Then he proceeded to ask Blackburn, "Did I read your letter [earlier this month] to the City Manager correctly in which you charged that the Lubbock Police Department had framed Timothy Cole?"
Blackburn answered, "I think the facts are clear that they did."
Beane was contending that the Innocence Project cannot speak of cooperation and friendship while at the same time accusing the police of framing Cole.
Meanwhile the Cole family was asked about whether they wanted money or justice.
"I'm not going to say we're not looking for money," Cory Session said. "The final decision is my mother's for what happened."
Session continued, "But the City of Lubbock … has paid out millions of dollars on lawsuit after lawsuit. And it seems like it's a continual cover up of allowing employees to screw up, to keep doing what they're doing, and we'll just write a check for it."
The Innocence Project has said it will have a presence at every regularly scheduled City Council meeting until the city agrees to investigate what went wrong in the Cole case.
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