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Ex-mortician with Abilene ties to be freed from prison early

Published On: May 06 2014 04:24:27 PM CDT
Updated On: May 07 2014 07:43:00 AM CDT

Photo of Bernie Tiede/courtesy of news-journal.com

CARTHAGE, Texas (AP) -

A former mortician sentenced to life for killing a rich East Texas widow will be released from prison early under an agreement with the prosecutor.

The judge recommending a reduction in Bernie Tiede's sentence set bond at $10,000 Tuesday. A state criminal appeals court must sign off on the sentence reduction while Tiede is out on bond.

Tiede lived in Abilene before he was sent to jail and before he ever worked in Carthage. He graduated from Cooper High School and then went to work for Jack North at North’s Funeral Home.

Tiede, now 55, was convicted in 1999 for the shooting death of 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent in Carthage about 150 miles east of Dallas. The case inspired the movie "Bernie."
    
The judge has agreed to let Tiede live with filmmaker Richard Linklater, who made the 2012 dark comedy.
    
The district attorney agreed that Tiede deserved leniency. Newly uncovered evidence showed Tiede was assaulted as a child and had an abusive relationship with Nugent.

Here’s the KTXS story on Tiede, written by staffer Mari Cockerell, when the movie was released in 2012:

You may want to check out the movie "Bernie," which is based on a true story and has a connection to Abilene. The story centers on a mortician in Carthage who killed a woman – a murder, it turns out, that no one in town seemed too upset about.

Jack Black, Shirley MacLain, Matthew McConaughey are the Hollywood heavy hitters who are in the movie called "Bernie."

Now in theaters, the Richard Linklater film tells the story of Bernie Tiede. A former mortician, Tiede is now serving a life sentence for the 1996 murder of 81-year-old widow – make that very wealthy widow – Marjorie Nugent.

While working in Carthage, Texas, Tiede had grown close to Nugent. She eventually changed her will, leaving her $10 million estate to Tiede. Sounds like your typical murder for money scenario, right?

Linklater's film becomes a comedy as you learn no one in Carthage really cared for Mrs. Nugent. Nevertheless, Tiede was convicted of the crime.

But before he was sent to jail, and before he ever worked in Carthage, Tiede lived in Abilene.

He graduated from Cooper High School and then went to work for Jack North at North's Funeral Home.

"Nobody had anything bad to say about Bernie," said North. He remembers the day he learned of the crime in a call from a newspaper reporter.

"He said, well, there's been a murder here. I said, Bernie got murdered? He said no, Bernie murdered someone. I just, I was glad I was sitting down, I couldn't believe it," North said.

North described Tiede as a gentle giant and the last person you'd guess to kill someone. Something most folks would agree with listening to a jail house interview Tiede did with a documentary film maker.

"I mean I did something terrible. And I regret that every day for the rest of my life. If they gave me 3,000 years in here, they could never take that away from me," said Tiede.