Bernie Tiede, the Texas mortician who inspired a Hollywood film after he was convicted of murder, is returning to court Wednesday for a re-sentencing trial.
Bernie Tiede was freed on bond two years ago after his sentence of life imprisonment for the murder of a wealthy widow was thrown out of court in light of new evidence.
According to a report by CBS News, a jury must now decide whether Bernie Tiede should be freed or returned to prison for life.
— KLTV 7 (@KLTV7) March 31, 2016
Tiede’s 20-year-old case from the small town of Carthage, Texas, captivated Hollywood.
David Linklater directed a 2012 film, Bernie, which starred Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Shirley MacLaine.
The film chronicled the bizarre tale of the popular mortician who befriended Marjorie Nugent, a wealthy widow more than 40 years older than he, while he was preparing her husband’s funeral.
Charlton Shamburger, the director of the Hawthorne Funeral Home where Bernie worked, said it was not uncommon for Tiede to make lifelong friends with the people he served.
“I like to say that Bernie made lifelong friends just upon a funeral arrangement. They met here. They met here at Hawthorne’s. That’s exactly where all this begins, so to speak.”
Tiede and Marjorie did become friends and companions, until things went sour between them, Bernie has said.
“She was really possessive of my life — so much of my life for the last few years and it got worse.”
According to court documents, the chubby, lovable choir singer shot his prickly 81-year-old companion four times in the back in November, 1996, stuffed her body in a freezer and hid her death for nine months. During that time, he reportedly spent or donated much of her wealth.
Shamburger has maintained that the act was not in character for the man he knew as Bernie.
“He couldn’t hurt your feelings, much less shoot someone four times in the back. It just didn’t fit, but then who could in such a bizarre story in the first place? You couldn’t make this stuff up.”
However, it turned out the Shamburger was proved wrong when Bernie confessed to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison.
— KVUE News (@KVUE) April 2, 2016
The 2012 film inspired Bernie’s lawyer, who was hired after the film was released, to review the case, according to Linklater.
“Bernie got a lawyer after the movie. Jodi Cole saw the movie and got very curious about the case. She thought she smelled some stuff there like, wait, something is not right.”
In her review of the case, Cole discovered some new evidence that would apparently call for a lighter sentence than life imprisonment and led the court to release Bernie on bond until a re-sentencing trial could be scheduled.
The new evidence revealed that Tiede was sexually abused as a child.
Despite the new evidence, Marjorie Nugent’s granddaughters believe Tiede deserves the sentence he received and wants him back behind bars for good.
“He murdered her. He conned her and he murdered her. It is as simple as that.”
BERNIE TIEDE SENTENCING-Begnaud CTM PKG WED0108-TX man whose murder conviction inspired a movie may be re-sentenced pic.twitter.com/MSZyAeB9oO
— CBS Newspath (@cbsnewspath) April 6, 2016
After being released two years ago, Bernie moved in with Linklater, who let him move into his garage apartment in Austin, Texas, according to the Dallas Daily News.
The trial begins Wednesday and is expected to last about three weeks.
[Photo by LM Otero/AP Images]