In Texas, No Justice… Just Us: The Stories of Regina Kelly (Dee Roberts) and Timothy Cole

American Violet is a new movie that is based on a true story of the Texas criminal (in)justice system. As described on Youtube,

Based on true events in the midst of the 2000 election, AMERICAN VIOLET tells the astonishing story of Dee Roberts (critically hailed newcomer Nicole Beharie), a 24 year-old African American single mother of four young girls living in a small Texas town who is barely making ends meet on a waitress salary and government subsidies.

On an early November morning while Dee works a shift at the local diner, the powerful local district attorney (Academy Award® nominee Michael OKeefe) leads an extensive drug bust, sweeping her Arlington Springs housing project with military precision. Police drag Dee from work in handcuffs, dumping her in the squalor of the womens county prison. Indicted based on the uncorroborated word of a single and dubious police informant facing his own drug charges, Dee soon discovers she has been charged as a drug dealer.

Even though Dee has no prior drug record and no drugs were found on her in the raid or any subsequent searches, she is offered a hellish choice: plead guilty and go home as a convicted felon or remain in prison and fight the charges thus, jeopardizing her custody and risking a long prison sentence.

Despite the urgings of her mother (Academy Award® nominee Alfre Woodard), and with her freedom and the custody of her children at stake, she chooses to fight the district attorney and the unyielding criminal justice system he represents. Joined in an unlikely alliance with an ACLU attorney (Tim Blake Nelson) and former local narcotics officer (Will Patton), Dee risks everything in a battle that forever changes her life and the Texas justice system. AMERICAN VIOLET also stars Emmy Award® winner Charles S. Dutton and Xzibit.

Here’s the movie trailer:

This is an independent movie, and is not in wide release. But if it is in your town, it might be worth a look.

The movie is based on a true story, which is detailed here. Another site has an engaging interview with Regina Kelly, upon whom the Dee Roberts character is based. Kindly enough, the video was placed on Youtube:

Fortunately for Kelly, her story had a happy ending, albiet, a very horrible beginning.

But some people in Texas aren’t (or weren’t) that lucky. This is from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

AUSTIN — Twenty-two years ago, Ruby Session listened in disbelief as a Lubbock jury convicted her son, Timothy Cole, of rape. She promised herself that one day she would make sure this injustice was corrected.

“I always had faith and I just believed that it would one day happen,” Session said.

That day finally came Tuesday when, after years of efforts by Cole’s family and a relentless group of supporters, state District Judge Charles Baird issued the first posthumous DNA exoneration in Texas history.

“The evidence is crystal clear that Timothy Cole died in prison an innocent man and I find to 100 percent moral, legal and actual certainty that he did not commit the crime that he was convicted of,” Baird said.

Cole was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 1986, after Michele Mallin identified him as the man who attacked her near Texas Tech University. Cole had always maintained his innocence.

In 1995, Jerry Wayne Johnson, who was serving two consecutive life sentences in prison for sexual assaults in Lubbock, admitted raping Mallin. Authorities ignored his confession until the Innocence Project of Texas took up the case in 2007. DNA tests in 2008 confirmed that Johnson was Mallin’s attacker.

Cole died in prison in 1999 at age 38 from complications of asthma.

In 2014, a monument was installed in Lubbock, Texas, to commemorate the loss of Timothy Cole. Cole died in prison from bad health; after his death, it was determined that he was innocent of the charges made against him. Details are here.

FYI: The Innocence Project of Texas is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions and securing freedom for men and women wrongfully imprisoned for serious crimes in the State of Texas.

As noted on the Project’s website, “the State of Texas is home to more verified wrongful convictions than any other state in the Nation. 32 individuals have been exonerated by DNA testing, and several more have had their wrongful convictions overturned on other grounds.”

You can read more about the Project starting here.

19 thoughts on “In Texas, No Justice… Just Us: The Stories of Regina Kelly (Dee Roberts) and Timothy Cole

  1. How on gods earth is this DA John Paschall still in office and the DA in Hearne County TX. Have the residents no shame? Everyone should know this guys real name. I only wish they would have used the his real name in the movie so light could be fully exposed on this malignant racist.

    • I complete agree…it blows my mind the country we live in. Where it’s continually stated, “One nation under God.” But every time mans wickedness appears, many suffer at the hand of greed and power.

    • I just watched the movie for the fourth time and it seem to me that the Judge could have put this to an end early in the case and if not; sponge everyone records. That is why I could not never live anywhere in Texas because they are still back in time and still very much racist.

      • This happened across the United States Tasks Force just simply beat people for no reason in Pittsburgh this is not just a Texas issue I have watched the move 3 times and cried each time and remember the knot on my brothers head he was hit with a Billy club by tasks force.

  2. What a strong woman. Yep the D.A. is a peice of work. Apperantly the voters in Hearn County Tx. are not the sharpest penciles in the box or is it they too share the same racial hate.

    • Exactly, I couldn’t understand for the life of me, how is the world do you all turn around and re elect the same monster??!!!! Unreal!!! Well at least the dirt has been exposed to the rest of the world to see.

  3. My son Hank Alan Johnson was murdered in Hearne Texas before the movie premiered American Violet about John Paschall the DA and he is in my story too because his brother in law is in my sons police report. His brother in law knew before my son was murdered and was approached by ralph martinez to help beat my son. He is covering up the murder of my son. protecting the murderers. they are still walking the streets of hearne. they did not take the dna of my son nor the finger prints of a murder victim. they exumed my son 20 months after his death and took them a month to get it to the crime lab.

    • I just saw the movie “American Violet”. I am white and live in Oregon. I was never exposed to your kind of prejudices. Nevertheless, I just want you to know that I, and many others, know these things happen. I used to trust the justice system, but I have found over the years that no one is to be trusted in “the system”. It’s who you know and who you blow…
      This whole country has gone to heck as far as I’m concerned. Many of my opinions are due to personal hardships and court decisions.
      I’m sorry for your loss and I know the void (I lost my son at the age of 27). Kay

      • I agree wholeheartedly with Kay’s earlier post of September 2011! Our country is fallng apart! The “powers that be” are so corrupt that human life apparently means nothing unless it can be used for their further gain, be it wealth, control, and/or power! It’s so
        I loved this movie! Good for you, Regina Kelly (Dee Roberts!!) Your daughters must be very proud of their mother!! ; )

  4. I just saw the movie on BET and I am shocked and offended. I am a retired Soldier. I fought in 4 wars, traveled to many countries, and would give my life for America. I am disappointed that someone like the DA in this case can still be in office. I only wonder what would have been the results if the DA was a minority? Ms. Kelley continue to do what is right. Know that there are people that support you. May God bless, Ms. Kelley, and the United States of America.
    SFC(Ret)Michael A. Brandly

  5. I am so sorry to hear about the movie.I just watched it for the first time on BET. I was very disturbed by what I saw..It almost brought me to tears that I district attorney could treat african american women like this..I wish america would do more in pushing civil rights.We think that because they honor african americans today that everything is over, its not, We still deal with racial acts and unfair justice in america today.I was happy that a young black woman stood up for what was right..I wish her all the best, and to you Ms.Kelly continue to believe in what is right, I have your back 1000 percent, justice should be served in TX and all over the world..I appreciate you..God bless!!!

  6. It’s a real shame that the people of hearn’s county texas, that have been convicted of crimes that they did not do, have not been exsponged. The judge who was appointed the case should have looked back, from the time the DA started and removed all false charges period. This guy destroyed a lot of lives, but God will destroy his in the end. Good Luck and God Loves You, Stay Blessed.

  7. My son Hank Alan Johnson’s murder is still unsolved. John Passchall’s brother in law is in my son’s police report and cleared by John Paschall the District Attorney alone and without protocol and cleared. I am suing Billy Blackburn the DA’s brother in law. My son was beaten to death with a baseball bat, Blackburn knew it was going to happen. He knew because the friend Ralph Martinez came to him and asked for his help in beating up my son. He knew before my son was murdered. Yet he is cleared. Yet he did not tell his brother in law the DA of what was going to happen. Texas Ranger Jim Huggins exhumed my son 20 months after he was buried. They did not take his scrapings of blood under his nails. nor did they take the fingerprints either. Patricia Moore pathologists did not take them she said because the authorities did not call her back at the conroe autopsies. Now the DNA I was told by the Austin lab was finished and sent to codis. Now they say to newspaper they hadn’t started yet. Do you see cover up? Cover up of a murder by a racist DA that a movie was made about in movie American Violet. There are other murders as well. Two more black men murdered because the white man at the motel,my son,was murdered the family and their families believe. More to this story than American Violet.

  8. God bless Timothy Cole and his family. He can rest in peace now thanks to The Innocence Project’s unyielding efforts to never stop fighting to bring truth and justice to those so unjustly accused, tried and convicted! There should be a national holiday in the names of James Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin, AND The Innocence Project, collectively!!

  9. I just watched the movie American Violet and it makes me sick to my stomach that people in the law profession would do that, people say we should get over it, but it’s hard to get over somethings and it’s hard to get fair and just equality, when you have a messed up judicial system, I’m in the Criminal Justice feel and I pray to God that I can help people who don’t know about the criminal justice system. I had the priviledge of learning more about the law, with the help of my CJ professors I am proud of what I accomplished. And much thanks goes out to my CJ professors, because without the help, and the dedication from them, and my fellow students, I wouldn’t have made it. I pray that what I learned at Remington College, I can use my knowledge, to help others.

  10. I loved the movie we need this kind of justice, lawyers, and help here I would love to know how to contact the lawyers.

  11. my son Hank Johnson was murdered almost 4 years ago,July 10,2008. His case is now inactive again for the 4th time. A cold case again. The DA John Paschall,and the DA Bill Turner is covering up their cover ups in my son’s murder. That is not alright with me.

  12. Its just a sin that in this time and day that innoscent people are still being wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes because of the color of there skin ! AND FOR THE PERSONAL GROWTH OF THE ALLEDGE LAW BIDING OFFICIALS CAREERS, AT THE EXSPENSE OF SOMEONES LIFE. I hate to say that color and race makes a huge difference on how things in the judical system will be handled if a teen age white male gets shot down in the streets the entire police force will be out looking for the Purpitrator the city won’t sleep until someone is arrested ! a Black or Hispanic Male we will do what we can when we can Not a Priority . America Is one of the Most Racist Countries on The Planet !

  13. sadly this type of injustice goes on in every small town in America, we have a black president in his last term, this should be one of his greatest agenda, iwas just looking at a documentary earlier today about the angola 3, we need help and we need to take action,2.3 million people incarcerated the most in the WORLD and the majority are black, we are supposed to be a minority but we are the majority in any and everything that’s bad, let them tell it. the white man has brought bad on every race in this world,blacks, Hispanics, native americans, we should all take a stand against this so called “united states”. America own up to your racist ways

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