Only on 13: Family of man wrongfully convicted of murdering teen still fighting for compensation

Clarence Brandley, a former Conroe High School custodian convicted of killing 16-year-old Cheryl Fergeson in 1980, died in 2018.

Jessica Willey Image
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Man fights for compensation after brother's wrongful murder conviction
The family of Clarence Brandley, a former death row inmate wrongfully convicted for a 1980 murder he didn't commit, is fighting to make things right.

CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- Clarence Brandley, once a Texas death row inmate, went to his grave an exonerated and free man, but his brother believes he is owed much more than that, and will make an appeal to Conroe City Council on Wednesday.

Brandley, a former custodian at Conroe High School, was convicted for the 1980 rape and murder of 16-year-old Cheryl Fergeson.

Fergeson was a manager for Bellville's volleyball team. She was found dead inside Conroe High School during a tournament after she left the gym to use the restroom and never returned.

Brandley, the only Black custodian among five, quickly became a suspect, and his attorneys believed he was railroaded due to racial prejudice. There were also allegations of wrongdoing and missing evidence, and in 1990, after appeals, the state dropped all charges.

Brandley spent nearly 10 years on death row. No one else has ever been charged.

RELATED: Ex-death row inmate Brandley not getting comp cash

"He missed the most important time in his life. Seeing his kids grow up," Brandley's older brother, O.T. Brandley Sr., told ABC13.

The case got international attention. Brandley, who had five children, sought compensation after his release.

He tried suing 20 entities for $120 million. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that all but three had immunity. He also filed for compensation from the state but was denied because he was never pardoned or declared innocent. So, Brandley never saw a dime, and in 2018, he died.

"They definitely owe my family," O.T. Brandley said.

That is why O.T. Brandley signed up to speak to the Conroe City Council on Wednesday and plans to ask them for a settlement. He wants to carry on his brother's fight for compensation.

"Why now?" O.T. asked. "This is as good a time as any."

The City of Conroe told ABC13, "All citizens, including Mr. Brandley, have the right to address the City Council for three minutes during the citizen's inquiry portion of the meeting."

Brandley knows his comments may not be well-received, but, he said, his brother lost a decade of his life, and someone or something should pay.

"I want them to do the right thing," he said.

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