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Judge Recommends Brandley Receive New Trial

November 25, 1987

CONROE, Texas (AP) _ A state judge who has recommended a new trial for death row inmate Clarence Brandley says he believes that Brandley is innocent of capital murder.

The case against Brandley was fimore shocking scenario,″ Pickett wrote in a 47-page recommendation released Tuesday. He had indicated after an evidentiary hearing in September that he would recommend a new trial.

″The continued incarceration of Clarence Lee Brandley under these circumstances is an affront to the basic notions of fairness and justice,″ he said.

Brandley has spent six years on death row for capital murder after being convicted in the 1980 rape-strangulation of a teen-ager.

Pickett’s opinion will be reviewed by the state Court of Criminal Appeals, which will decide whether Brandley, 37, should receive a new trial.

Brandley, a former high school janitor, was convicted of raping and strangling 16-year-old Cheryl Lee Fergeson at the school on Aug. 23, 1980.

In his opinion, Pickett said two other former janitors most likely are guilty of the crime.

The judge’s recommendation was based on evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing in Galveston. After the hearing, Pickett told a packed courtroom he would recommend that Brandley receive a new trial; however, he did not say then whether he thought Brandley was innocent.

Montgomery County District Attorney Peter Speers said he planned to file objections to Pickett’s report.

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