Friday, February 6, 2009

Timothy Cole Becomes A Poster Example Of Why DNA Evidence Is Important

So what is the big deal with DNA testing? Why should this type of evidence be so important? Well, the short answer is that it may save an innocent man from being convicted. Take the case of Timothy Cole. Cole was a Texas man who died in prison nearly 10 years ago serving a sentence for a rape he apparently did not commit. His family is asking the Texas court to exhume his body for DNA testing that may exonerate the deceased. Apparently the DNA tests that have been performed indicate Timothy Cole went to prison for a rape he did not commit.

Cole was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1985 rape of 20-year-old Michele Mallin. He died in 1999. Ironically, after his death, another inmate confessed to the rape.
See more details on the hearing to exonerate the body here: court hearing. It is expected that
Mallin will testify in favor of the motion to clear Cole's name. The exoneration of Cole is being done with the help of The Innocence Project of Texas, a nonprofit organization. Jerry Wayne Johnson, who has confessed to the rape, is also expected to testify.

Cole was accused of being the Texas "Tech rapist" who attacked four women besides Mallin in Lubbock. While Malin identified Cole in a lineup prior to the original trial, something never added up. Malin testified that her rapist was a smoker and Cole never smoked. Cole was convicted of Mallin's rape after declining a plea bargain offer that would have put him on probation in return for admitting his guilt.

Cole died on December 2, 1999 as a result of heart complications due to his asthmatic condition. He was only 39 and one suspects that he actually died as a result of a broken heart caused by the failure of his country's legal system to exonerate him.


Anonymous said...

Sad story.

Anonymous said...

I still don't trust DNA evidence. Seems like it should be used to exonerate but not convict. It is too easy to have a contaminated sample of DNA which allegedly belonged to the suspect that was allegedly found at the scene!


Ms Calabaza said...

Good point Doc! What a sad story.

low tech guy said...



Aaron said...

"Ironically, after his death, another inmate confessed to the rape."

This is incorrect. Johnson first attempted to confess to the rape in 1995. He was ignored for several years. Action was finally taken when he sent a letter to Cole, not realizing that he'd died. Cole's family took the letter to the media, and that prompted Lubbock county to do the DNA testing.

That aside, I think that your post places too much emphasis on DNA testing. The real culprit here was sloppy police work, as the officers went from looking for the rapist to shoring up a shockingly weak case against Cole. (For instance, Johnson, a chain smoker, smoked the entire time he abducted and raped Mallin. One would think this would rule out an asthmatic pretty much right off the bat.)

Anonymous said...

Typical Texas justice.

Anonymous said...

This could be the saddest story I've ever read. I can't imagine what would go through your mind serving every day of a sentence in prison you didn't deserve.

DNA evidence is certainly worth its weight in gold, high priced lawyers are what "contaminate" the evidence.

That being said, my thoughts and prayers go out to Cole's family.

cape crusader said...

I agree with Doc. DNA evidence should be used to clear someone but not to convict them. Let me share a cops prospective. If answered truthfully, the following question is almost always an affirmative:

Could this hair from the defendant have been tracked to the seen of the crime without the defendant never having been to the scene?

I am telling you folks, a single hair, a single sample of saliva from perhaps an innocent sneeze all mean we should be careful convicting on DNA evidence alone.

Cape Crusader

Anonymous said...

I think cape crusader is on to something...

Secrets said...

I agree.....this is very sad.

Anonymous said...

How could Mallin see the rapist smoke, but not his whole face? I think she is pulling something and is now feeling guilty. That's just my perspective.

Anonymous said...

I agree something may be fishy with the Mallin story.