The family of Marjorie Nugent filed a petition in Texas’ highest criminal court Tuesday arguing that Bernie Tiede’s claims of abuse that led him to shoot Nugent four times in the back is merely a ploy to avoid punishment.
According to documents obtained by The Panola Watchman, the Nugent family argues that the original jury sentence, which remanded him to life imprisonment, should be upheld because Tiede’s story has changed.
The documents state that under oath in 1998, Tiede said Marjorie Nugent was not mean to him, and that it hurt him to hear his attorneys characterize her so.
“Tiede replied that she was ‘more possessive’ and ‘I wouldn’t say exactly mean,’” according to the documents. “Neither Tiede’s confession to police nor his sentencing testimony contains any reference to any immediate provocation by Marjorie before the murder other than her possessiveness.”
The brief states that the jury heard Tiede testify that he thought about killing Marjorie for months and that he moved the murder weapon in advance to a location with greater accessibility.
The Nugents argue Tiede should have revealed his childhood abuse during the original trial when dissociation was originally mentioned. During that sentencing, Dr. Frederick Mears testified that the Tiede-Nugent relationship caused Tiede to lose the ability to calmly reflect on situations, something often associated with people who work in the funeral industry or victims of childhood trauma. At that time, Tiede had not revealed his abusive past.
More recently, in April 2014, Tiede’s attorneys claim that Nugent’s abuse included making him shoot armadillos while she allegedly demeaned and ridiculed him, made him shave her legs, and criticized a man with whom Tiede was having a relationship. These things, they argue, caused him to slip and shoot his elderly, millionaire companion in the back.
On May 6, 2014, Tiede was in court before visiting Judge Diane DeVasto, who released him on $10,000 personal recognizance bonds with terms that include that he must maintain employment, submit to and pay for random drug testing, live in a designated residence, not have contact with the victim’s family and not possess a firearm. The conditions apply to both the murder and theft charges.
District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson said in court, pending the introduction of the sexual abuse revelation, he believed Tiede should have been tried in the 1990s on second degree murder with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The Nugents argue that Tiede’s attorneys are protecting him for perjuring himself, and that they believe he should have been forced to testify under oath to the extent of sexual and mental abuse that led him to kill Marjorie.
The family suggests Nugent preyed on elderly, wealthy women, according to court documents. Questioning his motive to befriend Nugent, the family asserts that Tiede was in dire financial straits before becoming friends with Marjorie, and after he killed her, continued taking trips to New York and Paris with friends. The family said Tiede also spent $40,000 on buying a new business; he purchased new crystal and new furniture; bought a $12,000 coin collection; and spent or invested $25,000 in a friend’s store; and donated $100,000 to the First United Methodist Church building fund. Tiede also bought two friends cars totaling $50,000, and sent a letter purporting to bear Marjorie’s signature seeking a wire transfer of $225,000 from her account.
The family’s statement to the court says Tiede has not provided any sworn testimony commenting on either instance of abuse, and all the testimony is from mental health professionals commenting on what Tiede told them.
The Court of Criminal Appeals has not issued a response as of Wednesday evening.
Marjorie Ann Midyett was born Feb. 6, 1916 in the Snap Community, and graduated from Carthage High School with the class of 1934. On Aug. 14, 1937 she married Roderick M. Nugent in Shreveport, and they had one son, Roderick M. Nugent Jr. Her parents, Felix Spencer Midyett, born Feb. 9, 1889 and died July 20, 1974 in Panola County, and Ela Ross, born June 19, 1891 and died July 20, 1985 in Panola County, have old ties in Panola County and western DeSoto Parish. Spencer Midyett’s mother, Phoebe Ann Delilah Hickey’s family lived in the Belle Bower/Hog’s Eye Community along the state line between Panola and DeSoto Parish, just west of Lonstreet, La. Spencer’s wife, Ela Ross’ family are buried in Bethlehem Cemetery in Clayton.
The Midyett Community off of FM 123 on County Road 326 was named for a Spencer Midyett, who operated a general store and post office there in 1887.
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