By Field Sutton
June 20, 2014
June 20, 2014
Marjorie Nugent's family is breaking years of silence to defend the woman Bernie Tiede murdered. They're also trying to stop Tiede's temporary freedom from becoming permanent.
It's been about a month and a half since a judge decided to release Tiede on bond based on information about sexual abuse in his past.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will decide whether that becomes permanent. But on Friday Nugent's granddaughter said the family has been cut out of the process and that no one seems to remember Marjorie was a victim.
"In my opinion he acted on an impulse," a psychiatrist testified during the hearing on May 6.
Medical testimony at that much-anticipated hearing certainly sounded convincing. It boiled down to a "history of abuse" being the wrong thing to mix with an "abusive woman." It even convinced the original prosecutor to switch sides.
"I did not know that Mr. Tiede has been sexually abused as a child," Panola County District Attorney Danny "Buck" Davidson said in court that day. "I now believe child abuse led Mr. Tiede to kill Ms. Nugent along with other factors."
Now Davidson is under fire from Nugent's family.
"Because we feel like the district attorney isn't doing his job in this case and I feel like somebody needs to stand up for my grandmother, the victim, and the citizens of Texas," Nugent's granddaughter Shanna said Friday.
Shanna discussed in detail a letter sent to Davidson--asking why he was swayed by a new version of events from Bernie's own memory and without corroboration.
She said it was a far-cry from the forensic certainty of trial evidence, and a complete shock.
"[The district attorney] never tried to contact us," she said. "And in fact, I've been trying to call his office since January and he's never returned my calls."
Davidson did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday.
The family has also filed a brief with the state's highest criminal court, which is now tasked with deciding whether Tiede stays out of prison.
The brief calls out Davidson for allegedly lying in court about proper notification to the victim's family. It casts doubt on the new child-hood abuse theme.
"They're basically claiming that my grandmother abused Mr. Tiede. I find that horrific," Shanna said. "It's an entire villainization of my grandmother and there's no evidence to support that."
Instead Shanna argued that a hit movie and years of court cases have somehow lost the fact that her grandmother was just another Texas girl who came up during the depression, learned the value of frugality, and, in her final days, needed the kind of care Tiede apparently couldn't give.
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