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Panola County sheriff reveals some evidence to Nugent family, fight for more continues

CARTHAGE (KYTX) -

The family of Marjorie Nugent took another small step toward its goal Friday of putting Bernie Tiede back in prison. Tiede has been free ever since he convinced a judge he killed Marjorie in 1996 due to years of emotional abuse. 

The Nugents are seeking to convince the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that Tiede was just a thief who got caught and tried to cover his tracks. On Friday they were allowed to look at and copy a small amount of evidence from original case. 

1998 was the last time Rod Nugent (Marjorie's son) and Shanna Nugent (Marjorie's granddaughter) walked into the Panola County Sheriff's Department building to see evidence from the murder. By then it had already been two years since Marjorie had shot in the back and the family was looking for answers. They wanted to find a reason why Tiede risked his freedom to kill their beloved mother and grandmother. 

15 years later they're fighting to prove he meant to do it, as most of the evidence is still off limits.

"It is a drop in the bucket," Shanna said. "But this was greed. This was to cover up a theft."

Inside the sheriff's office Friday Shanna and her father went through a single box. It was all the sheriff's department would show them. 

The Nugents are still fighting a legal battle via Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to see what might be inside many more boxes of evidence.

"This was a horrible event in our lives," Rod said. There's probably not anything that could be worse."

Rod said the murder was bad enough, but after two decades investigators still have mementos and photo albums taken from Marjorie's house. 

"They still won't let us have them, but you know we spent probably 20 or 30 minutes in there going through all those pictures we don't have access to,' Shanna said. "And it was just kind of sweet to just go through and remember her."

There's been a steady stream of information that could help the Nugents put Tiede back in prison. There was a letter from Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake admitting that the evidence that might prove the murder was planned, though law enforcement can't or won't reveal it.

And there are checks allegedly forged by Tiede that turned Marjorie's death into a major payday.

"[Panola County District Attorney] Danny 'Buck' Davidson said greed was the motive in his closing statement," Rod said. "And now, apparently, he's forgotten that."

Davidson has not responded to repeated requests for comment from CBS 19.

Rod and Shanna said they now believe they were quiet for too long, having shied away from speaking publicly for years after taking the advice of others. They said false rumors about Marjorie's character have filled the vacuum left by silence. 

Shanna said this is her chance to save someone else's loved one from a man she believes to be a chronic liar. 

"He's a con man. He knows how to gain people's trust, win people over," Shanna said. "It's not shocking to me that the minute he gets out of prison he's living with his next millionaire benefactor."

The attorney representing the sheriff's department in this fight over what evidence can and can't be released had no comment about the steps that were taken with the Nugents Friday. He noted that getting an attorney general's opinion on a public information request is fairly normal in all types of cases involving evidence release.

Tiede's lawyer is under a gag order in the case and unable to respond to any allegations.

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