Friday, February 10, 2012

A Seed Of Justice Is Planted...In Texas??

Winter branches bend
Stripped of leafy greens and buds
Waiting for Spring's hope


Veterans salute former army medic Timothy Cole

Honor Guard Firing
The firing of the guns had such an air of finality

Cold winds do blow upon this planet, and when ignored can carry us out beyond the realm of hope. When we fail to prepare for these winds, tragedy strikes, leaving in its wake broken hearts and broken dreams. Then we must ask ourselves: What could have we done differently? What can we do to prevent this from ever happening again?

One thing is for sure: the cold winds will always blow.

Whose child does not count? Do not they all? If so, we often fail to act in accordance with that belief. But even the tears of tragedy can provide seeds of flowering life, the sacrifice of one providing life for countless others. That is the dream of Man.

White Roses
White roses were handed out for those who fought for exoneration

On a fittingly cloudy, chilly day in Fort Worth Texas, an historical marker was unveiled to hail the life of Timothy Cole, a Texas Tech student robbed of his life in the dark hole of the Texas prison system. At age 39, he died of a heart attack brought on by asthma complications. But the story did not end there.

In the outstanding fact based Soviet film "Citizen X", a serial killer is running loose in the Russian countryside. A committee - of course - is formed to find the source of the killings. As per any Soviet committee, a party member monitored with an iron fist, stating even before the evidence was in a serial killer could not be responsible for the deaths. That was a phenomenon only of the "decadent west" which could never happen in the paradise of communism. How very chilling to watch the search for truth stillborn with a preconceived agenda.

The police in the Timothy Cole case were also very Soviet like in their investigation of the rapes occurring of Texas Tech students in the mid 80s. A female undercover operative had been placed on the campus in the hopes of luring the rapist out into the open. Tim had the misfortune of striking up a conversation with the girl so when the next rape was committed, Timothy Cole was suspect number one - no matter what.

Family Row
Traumatized relatives of Timothy Cole

It was said more people were at the unveiling than at the funeral

The police "investigators" took a shirt and a ring from Tim's room and used them as evidence. This despite the victim denying their assertion of belonging to the rapist:

[Rape victim Michele] Mallin said she told police, "I told them it wasn't the shirt.”

And, about the ring she said, "I told them my ring was too big of a stone."

The victim never identified Cole as the perpetrator. Even the asthma was exculpatory as the true rapist "smoked heavily" while Timothy never did. The police had their agenda and were sticking to it, and in their minds that proved they were on the correct path. Just never admit you're wrong, comrade.

Click here to read the full story and hear the actual rapist's confession as detailed by the Lubbock paper in 2008.

Gravesite Victim
Tim's brother Cory with his arm around victim
Michele Mallin at the grave site

The event was well covered. Many dignitaries were there:
judges, state representatives and other judicial officials

After the statute of limitations ran out, the true rapist confessed - to deaf ears. None of the authorities followed up on his letter. The Innocence Project Of Texas, however, did. That started a long journey to daylight, as DNA evidence also proved Tim's innocence and a posthumous pardon was issued. Like the Soviet Union of yore, this forced even the Republic of Texas to crack under the undeniable horror of a life raped then killed by its bloody hands:

The Texas Senate passed legislation to exonerate Cole. The Texas House of Representatives bill passed through committee and then the full house. After that, it went to Governor Rick Perry to be signed into law. Another bill, named after Cole, was passed by the legislature and sent to the governor on May 11, 2009. It made those who are falsely convicted of a crime eligible for $80,000 for each year of incarceration and provide them with free college tuition. The bill also established the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions. A panel set up to study the causes of wrongful convictions and to devise ways of preventing them is to report to the Texas governor no later than 2011.

Jeff Blackburn, founder and chief counsel to the
Innocence Project of Texas, on the left.

Marker Cory
Tim's brother Cory now works
for the Innocence Project

With the unveiling of the permanent marker, Texas now slides down the slippery slope of total revelation - thank God! This beautiful metal sign stands as a forever thorn in the sides of those who fail to admit the truth: we failed this man. How many more are out there? Once one wrong is admitted, they can all be. Let the floodgates open! What is known can never be unknown again.

View entire photo set here

Here are some highlights from the commemoration and the unveiling of the marker. Very powerful.

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