In 1986, a Texas Tech student was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the rape of 20-year-old Michele Mallin. Tim Cole endured his incarceration with optimism and faith, encouraging his sister to finish law school and donating to charity with money from his GI Bill from prison—an especially amazing attitude, considering he didn't commit the crime. DNA tests conducted in 2009 proved just that, but Cole had died in prison a decade prior, reports CNN. To honor his memory, the city of Lubbock, Texas, unveiled a bronze statue in his likeness on Wednesday "to remind us of this teachable moment," a former city council member says. "When we make a mistake we should admit to it. We should make amends where we can."
Cole always insisted he was innocent, even when offered parole if he admitted to the rape. The truth emerged after inmate Jerry Johnson confessed in 2007 via a letter he sent to Cole, not realizing Cole had died. Gov. Rick Perry, who attended Wednesday's ceremony, pardoned Cole for the crime in 2010—the only posthumous exoneration ever awarded in the Lone Star State, the AP reports. Johnson remains incarcerated for life for other rapes; he won't be punished for Mallin's assault because the statute of limitations has expired. Cole's statue stands 13 feet tall, with its bronze body facing the crime scene and his eyes trained on Texas Tech's law school, notes CNN. "And Justice for All" is inscribed at the sculpture's base, and Cole's hands grasp a book with the words "And Lest We Forget" on the binding.