NAME: Reginald Kennard | AGE: 44 | HOMETOWN: Fort Worth |

In 1985, Timothy Cole was convicted of a rape he didn’t commit. He died in prison in 1999 and was exonerated of the crime in 2008 (“Cole Case”).

• I sat there for years wondering how that can happen. How can you get convicted on someone saying that’s you, and nothing else? In a sense, [the trial] was vindicating for our family because we had neighbors—even some of our family members—who secretly said, I think he did it.

• The whole time Tim was locked up, he would send long detailed letters giving encouragement. And you could just write him any time and tell him what was going on. And after he died, that was gone.

• My parents went to visit Tim every weekend, but the first time I went was the first time he could have a contact visit. I talked to him and he said, Reggie, don’t worry about me, I came here a man, I’m going to leave here a man. He was upbeat and smiling.

• He took care of me. He always said, good thing I came down here to Texas Tech to keep you straight. I blame myself because he came to Tech because I was there. And I talked him into doing the line up because I knew we had nothing to hide. Then when the trial came, I thought maybe I didn’t say something, or maybe I said something wrong; I didn’t say enough to get him out. And I blamed myself for a long time for that.

• When they were giving away parole like it was lunch, he could have gotten out then. But he refused. And I used to think he must be crazy [not to admit to it and get out on parole]. But now that I look back on it and am older, I see he was a man of his word. It would be hard for me to do that. I would not want to stay in prison an extra minute, but that was Tim’s thing.

• We always held out the hope that he would come home again. The fact that he might be able to walk through the door with that smile gave us hope. And the letters took care of that for a while, but once he passed, he was really gone. When he was in prison, we could write him and go visit him; we could see him. And you held that hope out that one day he would be home. But when he died there was finality to it, he was never coming home again.

• After Tim died, everything just stopped. As a family we were lost for a while. We were always a close-knit family, but after he got locked up we broke up a little bit. But after he died, we all went our separate ways. The exoneration has brought us back together.

• My dad always prayed that before he died, the person who really did it would come forward, but I never thought that would happen. It shocked me. It caught me totally by surprise.

• The healing has finally begun, not just for me but for my whole family.