Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Clarence Lee Brandley



Murder and Rape



Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:


County or Region of Crime:


City of Crime:



Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Clarence Lee Brandley was wrongly convicted in February 1981 of the August 1980 rape and murder of 16-year-old Cheryl Dee Fergeson in Conroe, Texas. Fergeson was manager of the Belleville High School volleyball team, which traveled 60 miles to Conroe High School for a Saturday morning scrimmage in August 1980. She was noticed missing shortly after the team arrived. Two hours later, she was found dead. Brandley was a janitor and Conroe H.S. and one of the two janitors who found her body above the school's auditorium. Brandley was the only black janitor and he was charged with the murder. H's first trial by an all-white jury in December 1980 ended in a hung-jury that voted 11 to 1 for conviction. Brandley was convicted by an all-white jury after his second trial and sentenced to death. After Brandley's conviction and sentence was affirmed on appeal, Centurion Ministries agreed to investigate his case. Centurion was able to locate an eyewitness to the murder who cleared Brandley by identifying the real killers. Based on the new evidence the 60 Minutes television news program broadcast a story about his case in 1987 as his execution approached. Brandley was granted a stay of execution in 1987 only five days from scheduled execution. Based on the new evidence Brandley's conviction was overturned on October 9, 1987 by Special State District Judge Perry Picket, who stated in his ruling, 'The litany of events graphically described by the witnesses, some of it chilling and shocking, leads me to the conclusion the pervasive shadow of darkness has obscured the light of fundamental decency and human rights.' The Montgomery County DA appealed, and a sharply divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled en banc on December 13, 1989 that Brandley's trial lacked the 'the rudiments of fairness.' The Court affirmed its ruling on January 22, 1990, and Brandley was released on $75,000 bail the next day, January 23, 1990, pending a decision by the Montgomery County District Attorney on whether it would retry him. The Montgomery County District Attorney subsequently decided against retrying Brandley based on the new eyewitness evidence he didn't commit the crime, and the charges were dismissed against Brandley on October 1, 1990. Brandley was on Texas' death row for 8 years and 11 months. Brandley filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Montgomery County that was dismissed. In May 2011 the Texas State Comptroller denied Brandley's claim for compensation under the Texas state law on the grounds that he didn't file the claim within the three year statute of limitations and that the judge didn't state in his order that Brandley's conviction was overturned on the basis of his actual innocence."

Conviction Caused By:

Perjured testimony and witness intimidation by the police.

Innocence Proved By:

Eyewitness identified the real killers.

Defendant Aided By:

Centurion Ministries

Compensation Awarded:

Denied by State of Texas

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:





Information Source 1:

"Death Isn't Fair, Texas Monthly, December 2002"

Information Location 1:


Information Source 2:

"“In Spite of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capital Cases,” Michael L Radelet, HugoAdam Bedau, and Constance E. Putnam, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1996 pb ed. with new forward, p. 288."

Information Location 2:

Information Source 3:

Centurion Ministries website

Information Location 3:


Information Source 4:

""Brandley Free After 10 Years," William Pack & Guy Cantwell, The Houston Post, January 24, 1990."

Information Location 4:


Information Source 5:

"Ex-death row inmate Brandley not getting comp cash, By Michael Graczyk (AP writer), Houston Chronicle, May 19, 2011"

Information Location 5:


Book About Case:

"White Lies: Rape, Murder and Justice Texas Style, Nick Davies (Pantheon Books 1991)"

Book Information:

Book About Case (2):

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Movie About Case:

Comments About Case:

Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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