In 2010, Texas made news headlines for making its first posthumous exoneration of an inmate wrongfully imprisoned. In 1985, Tim Cole was convicted of raping a fellow classmate at Texas Tech University while he was attending as an Army veteran.
Cole maintained his innocence for the next 14 years. In 1999, he died in prison from asthma complications at the young age of 39. In 2008, a DNA test cleared Cole of the 1985 rape. Two years later, Texas Governor Rick Perry posthumously officially pardoned Tim Cole of the rape. Because of the controversy surrounding this case, Texas passed the Timothy Cole Act which allows victims to receive large monetary lawsuits for their wrongful imprisonments. The state paid his surviving family members over $1 million. To stake his claim, Timothy Cole’s estranged father appeared out of the woodworks for his portion of the inheritance. As far as we know, Kennard Cole, Tim Cole’s father, never had any personal relationship with his son. In fact, his name is not on his son’s birth certificate. A Texas judge ordered the Tim Cole’s surviving parents to split his wrongful imprisonment settlement between them, even though his father was never involved in the inmate’s life. Tim Cole’s mother has stated that she plans to sue him for years of unpaid child support based on this unfair decision. Hopefully, the state will prohibit his father from inheriting his late son’s legacy.