CARTHAGE TX. (KYTX) - A brief court hearing in Carthage Wednesday afternoon confirmed rumors that convicted murderer Bernie Tiede will attempt to get a reduction on his life sentence.
Speaking on Tiede's behalf, Austin attorney Jodi Cole told visiting Judge Diane DeVasto that "mitigating evidence" had come to light that could affect Tiede's punishment in the 1999 murder trial in which he was found guilty of murdering Marjorie Nugent.
Cole did not explain the nature of the evidence, instead saying that a more complete version of the application for a Writ of Habeus Corpus that formed the basis for Wednesday's hearing would outline the potential changes.
Generally, a Writ of Habeus Corpus is a broad legal tool meant I safeguard against unlawful imprisonment. In this case it was use to bring Tiede before a judge for the first time in years for the purpose of re-visiting his sentencing.
A preliminary application for Writ of Habeus Corpus was unsealed in Wednesday's hearing.
"Re-investigation of the case revealed that Mr. Tiede had a previously unknown history of severe childhood sexual abuse," Cole wrote in the filing. "There is a new expert's evaluation, based on this newly discovered evidence, which has allowed for a more accurate understanding of the abusive relationship dynamic between [Nugent] and Mr. Tiede, the circumstances surrounding the shooting, and the subsequent reaction of Mr. Tiede."
Cole contends that such evidence could have swayed a jury in 1999 wen considering whether it was possible thy Tiede just "snapped" and committed the murder in a "dissociative-type episode."
The new evidence is said to have come from re-investigation sparked by publication of a newspaper article relating to the 2011 "Bernie" feature film.
Cole did not say precisely when she expected to file the completed Application. DeVasto said she expects to re-visit the matter in a hearing sometime in March.
Separately, a felony theft charge remains pending against Tiede. District Attorney Danny "Buck" Davidson told DeVasto he has motions pending in that case. He added that it would have been pre-mature I address those in Wednesday's hearing.