LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -
If you're from East Texas, you know the Carthage tale involving Bernie Tiede. Even if you're not a native East Texan, you probably know the story anyway, thanks to the movie, Bernie.
The film, starring Jack Black as Tiede, is a dark comedy about a Carthage murder. Two years ago, Bernie was showing in theaters across the south. The film made about $10 million. Even though its days at the box office are over, the movie could end up impacting the real-life Bernie's prison sentence.
"We had no idea what the movie would do. You never know on black comedies whether people will ignore it, be disgusted by it or see the humanity in it, " says Skip Hollandsworth, a journalist at Texas Monthly who co-wrote the movie's screenplay.
Bernie hit theatres stocked full of local faces. The story turns a bizarre murder into a comedy. The concept is something Bernie Tiede told us he is ok with.
"Comedy and tragedy, we learn in drama, are two faces of the same mask. So I guess it's ok and the treatment of it will be ok. It's getting some reviews and they're favorable," Tiede said from the Telford Prison Unit in May 2012.
Hollandsworth says the film got favorable reviews, despite only being released in the south. However, the unexpected part of the story is what is happening now. Tiede is back in East Texas as he waits for a hearing that could cut his life sentence short.
"I don't know where it will go. I think it's a mystery; another chapter to the story," says Hollandsworth.
Thursday, Hollandsworth explained to guests at Women in Longview Day that new evidence shows Tiede was sexually abused as a child. Hollandsworth says Tiede still suffered the psychological affects of that abuse when he supposedly "snapped" and killed Marjorie Nugent.
"The question is... if a jury had heard that during the original trial about what Bernie's childhood life was like...would that have affected a jury's decision?" he asks.
Tiede's new lawyer, Jodi Cole, took up the case after the film came out. Hollandsworth says Cole was paid a few thousand dollars. He explains that the money was a prize when the movie won an award at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin.
"Bernie has a chance of getting out of prison. How big of a chance that is, I can't quite say for sure, but we'll know when the next hearing comes around," he says.
No court dates for Bernie Tiede have been scheduled in Panola County. Tiede has been back in the Panola County Jail since January 21st. Currently Tiede is serving a life sentence for murder. He will be eligible for parole in 2027.