AUSTIN -- Twenty-two years ago, Ruby Session listened in disbelief as a Lubbock jury convicted her son, Timothy Cole of Fort Worth, of rape. She promised herself that one day she would make sure this injustice was corrected.
"I always had faith and I just believed that it would one day happen," Session said.
That day finally came Tuesday when, after years of efforts by Cole's family and a relentless group of supporters, state District Judge Charles Baird issued the first posthumous DNA exoneration in Texas history.
"The evidence is crystal clear that Timothy Cole died in prison an innocent man and I find to 100 percent moral, legal and actual certainty that he did not commit the crime that he was convicted of," Baird said.
Cole was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 1986, after Michele Mallin identified him as the man who attacked her near Texas Tech University. Cole had always maintained his innocence.
In 1995, Jerry Wayne Johnson, who was serving two consecutive life sentences in prison for sexual assaults in Lubbock, admitted raping Mallin. Authorities ignored his confession until the Innocence Project of Texas took up the case in 2007. DNA tests in 2008 confirmed that Johnson was Mallin's attacker.
Cole died in prison in 1999 at age 38 from complications of asthma.