Ruby Session was shaking as she read on. The year was 2007, and the letter was addressed to her son Timothy Cole. “I have been trying to locate you since 1995 to tell you I wish to confess I did in fact commit the rape Lubbock wrongly convicted you of.”
Ruby sat down, stood up. A picture of Tim in a tuxedo, taken at his junior prom, smiled from the mantle. Before his trial the prosecutor had offered him a deal to plead to lesser charges. “Mother,” Tim had said, “I am not pleading guilty to something I didn’t do.” He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Thirteen years later, he died behind bars.
The Texas criminal-justice system has long had a harsh reputation, but it has drawn renewed scrutiny with Gov. Rick Perry’s run for president. During the past 11 years, Perry has presided over 238 executions, including the infamous case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was put to death based on a dubious arson investigation. In a September debate, Perry famously said that he had lost no sleep over the possibility of an innocent man being executed on his watch.