The family of Marjorie Nugent — the widow whose murder was the focus of the 2011 film "Bernie" — filed a petition with the state's highest criminal court on Wednesday asking to submit a brief opposing the release of the man who killed her.
Last month, a state district judge freed Bernie Tiede, who had served 17 years of a life sentence for murdering Nugent in 1996. Tiede's lawyers discovered new evidence that he had been sexually abused as a young man. Psychiatrists hired by his defense team and by the office of Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson agreed that the psychological damage of the abuse lessened Tiede’s culpability for the crime. Davidson, who prosecuted Tiede in 1999, agreed that he should be released.
The petition filed by the Nugents objects to the decision to free Tiede and argues that Davidson failed to notify them about the court hearing to determine whether he would be released, preventing them from expressing their opposition.
“At minimum, the Court should have the benefit of hearing both sides of the argument,” the Nugent petition says. “No one can be harmed by permitting the presentation of countervailing arguments.”
Niether Davidson nor Tiede's lawyer could be immediately reached for comment.
Tiede was released on bond last month under strict conditions, including that he live with Richard Linklater, the director who made the dark comedy about the bizarre murder case. The court of criminal appeals must still approve a reduced sentence for Tiede.