Ex-Texas mortician being freed from prison early - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Ex-Texas mortician being freed from prison early

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By NOMAAN MERCHANT
Associated Press

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 district attorney who prosecuted him.

A judge set a $10,000 bond for Bernie Tiede after recommending that his prison term be reduced. He's to be freed later Tuesday.

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 2012 movie "Bernie."

Tiede must live with Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater, who made the dark comedy, as part of his release conditions.

The district attorney agreed with Tiede's attorney that he deserved leniency. Newly uncovered evidence showed Tiede was assaulted as a child and had an abusive relationship with Nugent.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A former mortician whose killing of a rich widow shook an East Texas town and later inspired a movie will soon go free, after the district attorney who prosecuted him agreed Tuesday to let him out of a life sentence.

Bernie Tiede was expected to receive a bond and get released later Tuesday. A judge said she would recommend reducing his prison term.

The now-55-year-old Tiede, who was well liked in the close-knit community of Carthage, was convicted in the death of his longtime companion, Marjorie Nugent. The 81-year-old widow had a reputation among townspeople as a crotchety cheapskate. The case inspired the 2012 dark comedy "Bernie" starring Jack Black in the title role and Shirley MacLaine as Nugent.

Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson agreed with Tiede's appeals attorney, Jodi Cole, who said he deserved a lighter sentence because he and Nugent had an abusive relationship before her death. Cole also argued that Tiede's being sexually assaulted as a child was a factor as well.

Nugent disappeared in 1996. Her corpse was found nine months later at her Carthage home about 150 miles east of Dallas, wrapped in a sheet lying among packages of frozen corn, pecans and meat. She had been shot in the back four times with a .22-caliber rifle.

Tiede had met Nugent in 1990 at the funeral of her husband R.L. "Rod" Nugent, who had made his fortune in oil and banking. The two would grow close, taking trips around the world, and Nugent signed a will leaving her estimated $10 million fortune to Tiede.

Tiede became known around town for his generosity. Townspeople have said he started scholarships, pledged money to a church building campaign and ran a fundraising drive for Boy Scouts. He also gave away large gifts, including several cars.

After Tiede was charged in Nugent's killing, pretrial publicity led to the case being moved to San Augustine, about 50 miles southeast of Carthage. A jury there convicted him in 1999 and sentenced him to life in prison.

Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nomaanmerchant.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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