Bernie Tiede lost in the courts again Thursday, but he isn’t giving up.
Tiede — a small-town East Texas mortician whose crime prompted a Hollywood movie — has already been sentenced twice in the 1996 shooting death of wealthy Carthage widow Marjorie Nugent, and he is asking for yet another trial. On Thursday, a state appellate court denied that request, affirming his 99-year sentence.
"Today truth and justice were upheld and a Hollywood myth was finally proved to be what it was...a myth,” said Nugent’s youngest granddaughter, Shanna, in a statement obtained through her lawyer. “... Two juries heard the evidence in two separate cities 17 years apart and both reached the same conclusion."
Tiede, portrayed by Jack Black in the 2011 movie Bernie, was a full-time companion to the 80-year-old Nugent before he shot her to death and hid her in a freezer for nine months. In his confession after her body was discovered, he said he was ending an abusive relationship. He was sentenced to life in prison.
After the movie was released, an attorney revisited Tiede's case and discovered sexual abuse that could have been a mitigating factor considered at his trial. He was granted a new punishment hearing in 2014 in a different county and even released on bond, but in 2016 a jury sentenced him to 99 years in prison.
In asking for yet another punishment hearing, Tiede has said the prosecution in his latest trial went back on an agreed upon deal for a lesser sentence and that his confession was illegally obtained. Jonathan Landers, Tiede’s lawyer, said he would appeal the lower appellate court’s Thursday decision to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
“We are hopeful that … the Court of Criminal Appeals will allow full briefing on legal errors that took place during Mr. Tiede's retrial,” Landers said.
For now, Tiede remains in prison at the Telford Unit near the edge of Arkansas.