November 18, 2014
A convicted murderer, living in Austin, could soon learn if he's out of prison for good. In 2011, Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater directed a dark comedy about the murder that landed Bernie Tiede in prison to serve a life sentence. Tiede's story got a lot of attention, and in May, Tiede was temporarily released from prison while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reviews his case. With a final decision expected before the end of the year, the family of the victim, Marjorie Nugent (pictured), is speaking out about how upset they are about everything that has happened. Nugent's family says it's time people start separating fact from fiction.
"She was a real person. She had real feelings. She had a family that loved her very much and this guy victimized her in every way possible," says Shanna Nugent, Marjorie's granddaughter. Nugent explains Tiede served as caretaker and bookkeeper for her wealthy, elderly and widowed grandmother. Nugent says Tiede and Marjorie met at the funeral home where he worked while she was planning her husband's funeral. As the years passed, Marjorie grew distant from her family and they grew suspicious. "My sister, our dad and our lawyer went down to Carthage and reported her as a missing person. Then, with the sheriff, broke into the house and then after that my sister found the body," explains Nugent.
Marjorie's body had been in a garage freezer for nine months. Nugent explains, during that time her family had been trying to get ahold of her. She says they were in touch with the Panola County sheriff while working through the court process of becoming her legal guardian. In a signed confession, Teide admitted to shooting Marjorie in the back. In that same confession, Tiede says he'd thought of hitting her in the head with a bat months before. Nugent says bank records prove her elderly grandmother was a victim of fraud.
"As you can see, he's writing check after check to himself," Nugent explains. She says Tiede wrote a $20,000 check, dated the day after Marjorie's murder. According to the Nugent family, financial records show Marjorie was supposed to attend a meeting at Longview Bank and Trust the day she was murdered. Shanna Nugent explains her grandmother was going to find out her money was being stolen but she never made it to that meeting. "I kind of look at what people do, not what people say, and to me, Bernie took advantage of an elderly woman in the weakest moment of her life," says Nugent. At a May hearing, Tiede was released from prison. His case is getting another look because of new evidence and abuse allegations.
According to paperwork filed in his case, new evidence shows Tiede was sexually abused as a child and his allegedly abusive relationship with Nugent caused him to "snap," in a crime of passion. However, the Nugent family says their grandmother is the one who was abused. "My grandmother didn't deserve to be killed. She didn't deserve to have all of her money stolen from her. She didn't deserve to be shot four times in the back. She deserved a lot more than that," says Nugent. Nugent has seen the movie, Bernie. She says she thinks the movie is distasteful, villainizes her grandmother and makes her relive the most horrible event of her life.
As a condition of his bond, Tiede is not supposed to speak to the media. However, in a 2012 prison interview, Tiede said he was not stealing from Marjorie but she gave him $3 million as a gift. Tiede said he was sorry that he killed Marjorie and maintains that he just "snapped."
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