Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hearing in Austin could lead to DNA exoneration

This hearing is today.

Tim Cole, convicted of rape of Texas Tech student in 1985, died in prison in 1999

LUBBOCK — For Tim Cole’s family, a return to a courtroom this week renews hope they’ve clung to since he was convicted of rape more than two decades ago.

Cole and his relatives for years claimed he was innocent in the rape of a Texas Tech student in 1985. But until DNA from the crime scene was tested last year, no one else believed them.

That test showed another man, already imprisoned for rape, committed the crime for which Cole was sentenced to 25 years.

His family will ask an Austin judge on Thursday to overturn the conviction, but Cole won’t be with them. He died in prison in 1999 at age 38.

It would be the first posthumous DNA exoneration in Texas, according to attorney Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas, paving the way for a pardon by the governor and, eventually, expunging Cole’s record.

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