Family of Bernie Tiede's murder victim sees evidence for first time in 17 years

Published: Nov. 1, 2014 at 12:12 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2014 at 2:13 AM CDT
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Bernie Tiede and Marjorie Nugent, Source: Facebook
Bernie Tiede and Marjorie Nugent, Source: Facebook
Bernie Tiede in 1997, Source: Panola County Jail
Bernie Tiede in 1997, Source: Panola County Jail
Shanna Nugent shares her family's story
Shanna Nugent shares her family's story

PANOLA COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The family of Marjorie Nugent, the Carthage woman killed by Bernie Tiede, is getting their first look at murder evidence that's been locked up for 17 years. The Nugent family says they are searching for anything that will help put Bernie Tiede back behind bars.

Tiede confessed to killing Marjorie Nugent and hiding her body in a freezer for nine months in 1996. A jury found Tiede guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

However, he was released in May after new evidence revealed Tiede was sexually abused as a child. Tiede's attorney says that evidence proves Tiede experienced a dissociative episode when he murdered Nugent.

Shanna Nugent and her family disagree, "There has been so much misinformation and so much fantasy about this. I like to bring people back to the facts."

She says many of the facts lie in financial documents gathered as evidence but never used in Tiede's 1997 murder trial. One of those things is a check written for $20,000 to Tiede's company the day after he confessed to killing Marjorie Nugent. They are also looking at evidence from the bank that started managing the Nugent family trust shortly before Marjorie's death.

"They got appointed trustee of the trust in 1996. On the day that he killed her, they were supposed to have a meeting at The Longview Bank and Trust. He's there to drive her to Longview to meet with the trust officer, the bank's lawyers, to put everything together. Instead, Tiede kills her, cancels the meeting, then goes out to pizza," Shanna Nugent says.

She never thought this evidence would be the future focus of her family's attention because Tiede was set to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"Flash forward 17 years and there's this hearing based on the fact that Tiede's motive for killing her was sudden passion and I would have thought all of the financial theft evidence would have come out at that time," says Shanna Nugent.

It didn't.

"So, I basically have requested from the Panola County Sheriff to release those files so I can see it all, so the public can see it all and hopefully the district attorney will look at it and realize it is incumbent on him to produce all of the evidence that makes the murder look like it was done for greed and not sudden passion," says Shanna Nugent.

Part of her evidence request was granted. It's now up to the Texas Attorney General to decide if the remaining evidence, mostly financial documents and video tapes, are protected by law as part of a pending criminal investigation.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to seek justice for my grandmother but also I think protect society from this guy," Shanna Nugent says.

She has spent the last five months wondering what will happen to Tiede. The Criminal Court of Appeals releases their decisions every Wednesday. They've had Tiede's case since May and Shanna Nugent is praying they send him back to prison.

"I think letting this guy go is a huge risk," says Shanna Nugent, "He is a predator who targeted my grandmother at the weakest moment of her life, did everything he could to seclude her from everyone who cared about her and loved her, stole all of her money, then ultimately killed her to cover that theft up. That's my belief. That's my family's belief and I think we have a lot of documents that go to show that."

They hope those documents will be used in court and will change how people perceive the man who murdered Marjorie Nugent.

The Panola County Sheriff's Office allowed Shanna Nugent and her father to make copies of several pieces of evidence Friday morning. They got to look at photo albums, Christmas cards and a video of Bernie and Marjorie on a trip to Egypt.The Attorney General has until the second week of December to decide if other evidence, such as video tapes taken from Tiede's house and financial documents from both Tiede and Marjorie Nugent's accounts, will be made public.

Any of this evidence could be used in a new punishment hearing or in a case involving the 10 theft indictments Tiede is still facing. Those charges were separated from his murder charge back in 1997.

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