Bernie Tiede released from prison on bond

Published: May. 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2014 at 10:19 PM CDT
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Bernie Tiede, the mortician who was convicted of shooting and killing a Carthage woman in 1999, was released from prison on bond on Tuesday evening.

A judge in Panola County heard a recommendation from both Panola County District Attorney Danny "Buck" Davidson and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Edward Gripon on Tuesday that Bernie Tiede should be released from prison on time served.

Judge Diane DeVasto recommended that Tiede be released on a $10,000 bond. The bond stipulates that Tiede maintain steady employment, surrender his passport and not leave an area surrounding Austin. Tiede would live in an apartment provided by Richard Linklater, the director of the film, "Bernie." Tiede will go home with Linklater on Tuesday evening.

Tiede's case will now go to the Criminal Court of Appeals, who will make the final ruling on whether or not Tiede will be released permanently. No time frame has been set for that case.

Tiede admitted to killing his friend and Carthage millionaire Marjorie Nugent in 1996. He was convicted of Nugent's death in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison. Under that sentencing, he would not be eligible for parole until 2027.

Dr. Gripon told the court that he believes Tiede experienced a dissociative episode when the offense against Marjorie Nugent was committed. He said he believes the incident was not premeditated.

"It seems as though the emotion built up over time in my opinion," said Dr. Gripon, "He put the body in a place where it could be preserved and then went on with his life the best he could without showing any emotion related to that."

Davidson said based on new evidence he believes a history of abuse and other factors led Tiede to kill Nugent. He told the court he no longer believes a life sentence is appropriate.

"I have made new, fully-formed assessments of the circumstances surrounding the shooting event, and Mr. Tiede's lack of future dangerousness. I now feel that a life sentence is an inappropriate sentence for Mr. Tiede," said Davidson.

Davidson added that new psychological findings and evidence of abuse are credible evidence and that something needed to be done. He said that given the new evidence, Tiede’s sentence should be softened to a maximum of 20 years. If Tiede had been sentenced to 20 years in his original case in 1999, he would have already been released on parole.

Davidson said Tiede is a convicted felon who has served 17 years in prison and should be released on time served.

If released, Gripon told the court he believed Tiede is not a danger to society and that the incident with Nugent was a unique event.

Nugent disappeared in 1996. Her corpse was found nine months later at her Carthage home about 150 miles east of Dallas, wrapped in a sheet lying among packages of frozen corn, pecans and meat. She had been shot in the back four times with a .22-caliber rifle.

Tiede met Nugent in 1990 at the funeral of her husband R.L. "Rod" Nugent, who had made his fortune in oil and banking. The two would grow close, taking trips around the world, and Nugent signed a will leaving her estimated $10 million fortune to Tiede.

Tiede became known around town for his generosity. Townspeople have said he started scholarships, pledged money to a church building campaign and ran a fundraising drive for Boy Scouts. He also gave away large gifts, including several cars.

Tiede rose to fame after his story was portrayed in the 2011 film, "Bernie," starring Jack Black.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.