By Richard Yeakley
August 14, 2014
The attorney for Carthage murder convict Bernie Tiede submitted a letter Tuesday to the Austin court considering freeing her client, in which she argued that a previous motion from the victim’s family is “inappropriate.”
Tiede has been free from prison since May when a Carthage court ruled new evidence could have prompted a lighter sentence from Tiede’s jury in his 1999 trial.
Jodi Cole’s letter to Abel Acosta, clerk of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, was sent in response to a motion from the family of victim Marjorie Nugent, which argued Tiede should serve his full life sentence.
Cole said the state legislature had determined that the court should not hear from “a victim, close relative of a deceased victim or guardian of a victim” until after the case’s resolution.
“In the instant case, should the Nugent family have views it wishes to address regarding the offense, the defendant, or the effect of the offense, it will be permitted to do so after sentencing, should that occur in this case,” Cole wrote. “This case needs to be decided objectively, using legal precedents and the record, without outside influence of emotionally based public opinion.”
The Nugent family motion, filed on June 24, argued that Tiede knew during his trial that he’d been sexually abused as a child.
Tiede, 55, was convicted of shooting Nugent, 81, four times in the back on Nov. 19, 1996. The assistant funeral home director placed her body in a freezer where it remained nine months before discovery.
He was freed by a visiting judge in Carthage on May 6 after claiming he had not admitted during his 1999 trial that he was sexually abused as a child. That abuse could have brought on the disassociative episode in which he snapped and fired on Nugent, whom he described as increasingly dominating his time and help.
Tiede has lived in Austin since May 6 on probation while the court considers whether he should be freed or face a new punishment phase of his murder conviction. He is living with Richard Linklater, whose movie, “Bernie,” brought national attention to the Carthage murder and drew Cole to take up his case.
— Staff writer Glenn Evans contributed to this report
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