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Brookhaven College employee newsletter: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Innocence Project Visits Campus

Innocence Project Visits Campus

James Lee Woodard, Cory Session and Natalie Roetzel, of the
Innocence Project of Texas, visit campus as part of the Open Book Project.

On Oct. 21, the Innocence Project of Texas brought to campus two speakers with some jaw-dropping stories.

James Lee Woodard, Cory Session and Natalie Roetzel stopped by Building X, Room X1091, to speak as part of this year’s Open Book Project.

The 2010 Open Book Project focuses on “Picking Cotton,” a touching tale of Ronald Cotton, his wrongful conviction and how he came to forgive his accuser.

It seems Woodard and Session share some common ground with Cotton.

Woodard was declared guilty of murder in 1981 and was sentenced to life in prison. After 27 years behind bars, DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Innocence Project Visits Campus

James Lee Woodard from released
from prison after DNA evidence
proved his innocence.

Session’s brother, Timothy Cole, was convicted of multiple rapes on the Texas Tech campus in the 1980s. He served 13 years before dying of a heart attack in prison. Years after his death, Cole was proven not guilty through DNA testing.

Natalie Roetzel, chief staff attorney for IPOT, led the conversation as Woodard and Session shared their stories.

IPOT worked on both Cole’s and Woodard’s cases and helped the two men get a second chance at life. To learn more about IPOT, visit

Though campus events for the Open Book Project are over for 2010, more exciting things are on the horizon starting in January. Stay up to date by visiting or visit the project's Facebook page.

If you’d like to incorporate “Picking Cotton” into your spring class, contact Kendra Vaglienti, executive dean of the Communications Division, at