From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
February 6, 2009
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Honors Official Exoneration of Tim Cole

(Austin, Texas) — Senator Rodney Ellis today honored the official exoneration of Tim Cole by a Texas State District Court. Mr. Cole was wrongfully convicted of rape and served 13 years in prison, where he died of asthma complications in 1999.

"This is a day to be proud of, but not to celebrate. Today, at last, justice has been done.

"I offer my sincere condolences and deepest sympathies to Tim Cole's family for the 13 long years he was forced to suffer in prison for a crime DNA proved he did not commit, and for the decade plus they fought to clear his name. I hope that they may finally find the peace they have so difficultly earned.

"It would be disturbing enough if Mr. Coles' case was an isolated incident, but the unfortunate reality is the discovery of wrongful convictions is becoming increasingly frequent in a state that already leads the nation in this shameful statistic. We've had 37 other DNA exonerations in Texas--more than any other state in the nation. These compounding exonerations are clear and convincing evidence that our criminal justice system is in serious need of repair, and it's time we took the necessary steps to fix it.

"Over the last decade I've fought for legislation to address these issues, but the Texas Legislature has been unwilling to take action. We can no longer sit idly by. It is not fair to the families of the Tim Cole's of this state. Texans deserve smart on crime policies they can trust convict the guilty and protect the innocent. That's why I am pushing for sound policies again this session, such as SB 117, legislation to strengthen eyewitness lineup protections and prevent mistaken eyewitness identifications and, SB 116, which would require the recording of interrogations.

"It's time for the leaders of this state to come together and to take the necessary steps to ensure that our citizens have a system of justice they can have confidence in and is instilled with the fairness and integrity that justice demands."