A jury in Henderson, Texas has closed another chapter in a Texas murder story that captured the public’s attention nearly two decades ago.
This past Friday, Bernie Tiede, who was the real-life inspiration for the 2011 Richard Linklater film “Bernie,” was sentenced to 99 years to life for a second time for killing Marjorie Nugent in 1996.
Tiede shot Marjorie Nugent in the back four times, then folded her body into a freezer and spent her money.
The Dallas Morning News‘ Brandi Grissom was at the trial and has been following this case for sometime. The narrative that the movie portrayed – which played a role in getting the retrial – versus the one that unfolded in the courtroom, was a big factor in the case.
The movie portrayed Tiede as a “loving, chubby choir-singer guy,” Grissom says, a guy who everyone in the small East Texas community of Carthage loved. It portrayed Nugent as a cantankerous, 81-year-old widow with a mean, vindictive streak. The story points to her demeaning hold on Tiede as the reason why he “snapped” under the pressure Nugent was putting on him.
But that’s the Hollywood story.
“The story that came out in court was much different from what we saw in the Richard Linklater film,” Grissom says. “In the courtroom the fight over the last few weeks has really been between lawyers for Bernie – who say that he sort of snapped suddenly – and the lawyers for the state – who said this was a really cold, calculated, premeditated event.”
The narrative there states that Tiede began stealing Nugent’s money long before her death, and he only murdered her when he realized he was about to be caught.
Nugent’s family felt that the movie portrayed their matriarch inaccurately.
“According to them, she was this loving farm woman who certainly was stubborn and smart and wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t deserve what happened to her at all,” Grissom says. “They spent really the last two decades of their lives trying to defend her and make sure that from their perspective that justice was achieved in the case.”
The family spoke to media after the case Friday and told reporters “Justice one, Hollywood zero” Grissom says.
There will be appeals from Tiede’s lawyers, Grissom says. He has many supporters that believe he is reformed from the 17 years he spent in prison and from the two years after prison he spent in the Austin community living in Linklater’s basement.
This post prepared for web by Beth Cortez-Neavel.