Bernie Tiede’s bizarre Hollywood story just got weirder.
Tiede was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999 after shooting 81-year-old millionaire Marjorie Nugent in the back three years prior. Police found the body hidden in a freezer months later. Tiede had quit his job as a funeral director to work for Nugent as her business manager and companion.
Linklater’s 2011 movie brought increased attention to the case. The new lawyers who came on board to assist in Tiede’s appeals found self-help books in his home for victims of sexual abuse, which he hadn’t mentioned to his previous defense team.
New psychiatric examinations revealed deep trauma stemming from his repeated sexual abuse as a teenager. The psychiatrist told the judge that Tiede would not pose a danger to society.
Had he known of the abuse, district attorney Buck Davidson (played by Matthew McConaughey in the film) said he would not have pursued the life sentence. The maximum sentence for a murder committed in the heat of the moment is 20 years in Texas.
So his sentence was reduced to time served and he was released on a $10,000 personal bond.
Linklater met Tiede about four years ago when he began working on the film about the Texas crime.
“I was very impressed in prison how the other inmates looked up to him,” Linklater said during the trial. “He seemed to be a very positive force in a negative environment.”
Aside from living in the garage of Linklater’s Austin apartment, the conditions of his release include counseling for sexual abuse and working as a legal clerk for the lawyer who appealed his case, Jodi Cole.
“Myself and others are determined to help him in any way we can,” he said at the trial, according to the the Texas Tribune.