LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Less than a week after an Austin judge cleared his name, the family of Timothy Cole returns to the Lubbock courthouse where he was wrongly convicted.
As family members continue their mission to fully clear Cole's name, they're also working with state lawmakers to prevent other families from going through the same tragedy.
NewsChannel 11 spoke with the family Thursday afternoon as they left the Lubbock County Courthouse. "If someone says they're innocent they just might be innocent. Take another look," Cole's brother Cory Session said.
That's part of the message Cole's family members told Judge Jim Bob Darnell. "I appreciate the fact that Judge Darnell came off of the bench and spoke with us, and I think his expressions to us were heartfelt. I know that mine were," Cole's mother Ruby Session said.
Darnell prosecuted Cole back in 1985 for the rape of a Texas Tech student. Cole was found guilty and died 14 years later in prison while serving a 25 year sentence. Last year, DNA tests connected Jerry Johnson to the crime. He also confessed.
The family says Darnell did not apologize Thursday, but he did say he wants to know what went wrong. "Judge Darnell telling us that gives us some hope," Cory Session said.
"He said some other things, and if you guys weren't there to hear it, I'll just keep that between he and I. Maybe those will come to fruition," Ruby Session said.
The family is now working to help pass several laws that could prevent wrongful convictions in the future. "There are about 12 bills, and we're going to help the state get over its addiction. We're going to send the state through a 12 step program to get rid of its addiction to convictions," Cory Session said.
Some of those bills would change the way authorities conduct photo line-ups, require interrogation recordings, and boost compensations for the victims of wrongful convictions. "If the legislature does some things and bills that they are working on, I'm thinking Tim's death would not have been in vain," Ruby Session said.
On Friday, State District Judge Charles Baird ordered Cole's record be expunged. They family has also asked Governor Rick Perry to issue a formal pardon.
Timothy Cole Exonerated 24 Years Later
For nearly 24 years the Cole family has maintained innocence and Friday an Austin District Court agreed. Timothy Cole was convicted in 1986 of raping a Texas Tech student and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, where he died.