Convicted Murderer Featured in ‘Bernie’ Movie to Be Released After Help of Filmmaker

By Frank Elaridi

May 7, 2014 1:29pm

A former mortician sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent in the East Texas town of Carthage in 1996, will be released from prison.

A judge ruled that the life sentence for the ex-mortician, Bernie Tiede, 55, who served as the inspiration behind the 2011 film “Bernie,” starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, was too harsh.

During testimony on Tuesday, new evidence showed that Tiede was sexually abused as a child, and that may have led him to snap and kill Nugent.

Tiede’s release on bond came with certain conditions, which included counseling for sexual abuse and a requirement that he live in the Austin, Texas, garage apartment of “Bernie” director Richard Linklater.

Linklater has been a strong supporter of the convicted murderer, and his dark comedy portrayed Tiede as a lovable member of the community who became the only friend of Nugent, an unpleasant, wealthy widow. After he killed her, the police discovered her body in a meat freezer and Tiede was charged with murder. Even after the movie character confessed to the crime, the town rallied in his support and some even claimed the old woman deserved to die.

Calls to Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson were not immediately returned.

Calls to Ryan Gravatt, a spokesman for the Nugent family, were not immediately returned.

Nugent’s granddaughter, Dallas-area lawyer Shanna Nugent, told the Associated Press, “I really wanted justice for Nanny. … This doesn’t really feel like justice.”

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