Carthage residents react to decision on Tiede's appeal

Published: Nov. 26, 2014 at 11:00 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2014 at 3:30 AM CST
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CARTHAGE, TX (KLTV) - The town of Carthage reacted Wednesday to news of Bernie Tiede's possible re-sentencing. The townspeople seem to be evenly split: some believe Tiede's 17 years in prison were enough, while others think his newfound freedom comes too soon.

But, for many Carthage residents, bringing Tiede's case back to Panola County is also bringing back memories of 1996, when news of Nugent's killing broke.

Read More: Bernie Tiede wins appeal

"It was a circus. That's all anybody talked about. It was all in the news. People from all over the country came to that trial, that hearing."

James Baker remembered the arrest, the trial and the sentencing of his longtime friend

"He'd sing for you. He'd preach for you. He'd pray with you. Whatever you needed, just call Bernie and he's gonna make it happen," Baker said.

When Tiede confessed to killing Marjorie Nugent, Baker simply couldn't believe it.

"Just a few years ago we'd been voted the best little town in the United States, and now we got somebody that killed somebody and put them in a freezer."

The story would catapult the small East Texas town into the national spotlight; A Hollywood movie was even made, starring Jack Black. And then, most recently, Tiede's release in May.

Read more: Nugent family spokesperson: "They were looking for justice for Marjorie, not freedom for Bernie"

The opinion around town was evenly split on Tiede's release. But for Baker, throwing out a life sentence brings mixed emotions.

"What's right and what's legally right is not always the same thing. Legally…yes…it's time for him to be set free. Morally... no," he said.

But, if Tiede does make his way out for good, Baker says, he'll have trouble fitting back in.

"Could he come to a restaurant, sit down and feel comfortable? No. He could go to a few people's houses, but not that many. He wouldn't fit here anymore."

A hearing for Tiede's re-sentencing has not been set.

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