The bad news is that the pardoned man is dead. Dead despite the fact that the guilty man tried repeatedly to confess:
Perry made those remarks during an extraordinary ceremony in which he handed down the first posthumous pardon in Texas history. Timothy Cole, imprisoned while a 26-year-old student at Texas Tech University, had been failed by the justice system at every turn. But what makes his story particularly gut-wrenching is that he perished in prison even as the real rapist, Jerry Johnson, tried repeatedly to confess to the crime. By the time Johnson’s story was heard, Cole had been dead nearly a decade.
The tale of Tim Cole and Jerry Johnson, which I investigated for more than a year, reveals a system in which an innocent man, once convicted, has virtually no chance of redemption—even with the guilty man fighting for it. For the thousands of Americans spending years of their lives in prison for crimes they did not commit, the odds couldn’t be much bleaker.
Definitely read the whole thing.
Perhaps in a decade or two a Texas governor will pardon Cameron Todd Willingham…