Man convicted of manslaughter in death of UT freshman in 2001 denied parole for third time

Brandon Threet was 19-years-old when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the death of then 18-year-old Terence McArdle at a party in Austin. (CBS Austin)

The man convicted of manslaughter in the death of a University of Texas freshman in 2001 has been denied parole for the third time.

Brandon Threet was 19-years-old when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the death of then 18-year-old Terence McArdle at a party in Austin.

Threet was indicted on charges of first degree murder, but in 2002, a Williamson County Jury convicted him of manslaughter handing down the maximum sentence of 20 years.

"It's the first thing I think about when I wake up and it's the last thing I think about before I go to bed," Threet told CBS Austin from behind a glass partition at the Hughes Unit in Gatesville, Texas.

Threet and McArdle were both freshman in college at the time, but were in Austin for a house party where Threet punched and kicked McArdle in the head.

He was taken to the hospital and later died from his injuries.

"I just feel terrible they have to live with that hurt, and the worst part is that I caused it," Threet said.

Threet describes that October night in 2001 as a fist fight turned bad.

"I was an immature freshman in college and we were drinking at a party and things got completely out of hand and it was a terrible situation even though it was only 12 seconds long. You know, it changed two families lives forever," Threet said.

But the McCardle family maintains Terence was viciously attacked and beaten. The family declined to talk to CBS Austin about Threet's possible parole decision, but sent this statement:

"Threet assaulted Terence several times throughout the night before tricking Terence under false pretenses into believing that they would have a friendly exchange of punches to the chest. Instead of punching Terence in the chest, Threet struck Terence in the face, knocking Terence to the ground. While Terence was on the ground, Threet continued to punch him. After a bystander attempted to intervene and as Terence was in a push-up position, trying to stand up, Threet took three steps and was wearing steel-toed boots when he fatally kicked Terence in the side of the head."

The McArdle family has never talked publicly about their son's death, but after the 2002 sentencing, then Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley spoke on their behalf.

"They're very pleased that a Williamson County jury listened to this and decided it was not a fight. What bothered them the most was Brandon Threet describing this as a fight. It was an ambush. The jury found that it was an ambush and they punished it accordingly," Bradley said.

Threet was first up for parole in 2012 after serving ten years in prison. He was denied then, and again in 2015.

The McArdle family has aggressively protested Threet's parole on their website, calling on others to sign petitions and send letters to the parole review board.

They maintain this was a violent attack that killed their unsuspecting son.

"I don't blame these people at all for the way they feel about me," Threet said.

When CBS Austin talked to Threet, he was waiting for the parole review board's decision. He said he's a different person now. While in prison he's earned two associates degrees and is one class away from a bachelor's degree.

"Once we come up everyone gets hopeful and it's kind of stressful at the same time and then you just wait for them to make a decision," Threet said.

Tuesday the family got word Threet was denied by the parole review board for a third time.

The denial reason on the TDCJ website is listed as the nature of the offense, which states that, "The instant offense has elements of brutality, violence, assaultive behavior or conscious selection of victim's vulnerability indicating a conscious disregard for the lives, safety or property of others, such that the offenders poses a continuing threat to public safety."

Threet's attorney Trent Marshall said his client has been a model prisoner and he and Threet's family hoped for a different outcome. But, It was a possibility both Marshall and Threet had to be prepared for.

"It's hard because you have to stay grounded for your family and you can't get so excited you're devastated if it doesn't go your way," Threet said.

After his third denial, Threet will be up for parole again in November of 2019. If Threet serves the full sentence, he'll be released from prison in 2022.

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