UPDATE: State's top criminal court reviewing Bernie Tiede's release

Bernie Tiede walks free for now, fate rests in hands of appeals court

UPDATE: Bernie Tiede's case was filed Thursday with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. His application for a writ of habeas corpus and the accompanying evidence will be reviewed by a nine-judge panel. They'll be looking at the same exhibits that convinced Judge Diane DeVasto to temporarily set Tiede free in May.

Under the terms of his conditional release, Tiede is still living in Austin with the man who made the "Bernie" film. There is no specific timeline in place for the case to be heard or decided by the appeals court.

CARTHAGE (KYTX) -- The most famous murderer in carthage could be out of prison forever. Tuesday afternoon Bernie Tiede became a free man, though how long that lasts is up to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

In January Tiede was brought back to the Panola County Jail from his Texas prison cell under mysterious circumstances. He had been in prison since his 1999 conviction for the murder of wealthy Carthage widow Marjorie Nugent.

It turned out evidence had surfaced that Tiede was sexually abused as a boy. In the end it was enough to convince a judge to let him go.

Even the prosecutor who fought for Tiede's life sentence has had a change of heart.

"I did not know Mr. Tiede had been sexually abused as a child," Panola County District Attorney Danny "Buck" Davidson said as he read from an affidavit in court Tuesday. "I now believe child abuse ultimately led Mr. Tiede to kill Ms. Nugent along with other factors."

Davidson made a joint filing with Tiede's defense team--pleading with Judge Diane DeVasto to let Tiede's nearly twenty years behind bars be enough.

Ultimately, the issue was whether Tiede's history of sexual abuse caused him to snap or if, in fact, the murder was premeditated.
"In my opinion he reacted on an impulse," Dr. Edward Gripon, a psychiatrist who examined Tiede, testified. "They had, briefly stated, they had a very unusual, dysfunctional and rather toxic relationship."

The decision to let Tiede go home was not a final one. The Court of Criminal Appeals has to review it. For the time being he's out on $10,000 bond, and under court order to live in Austin with the man who made the movie about his life. Tiede will be under the supervision of Travis County parole officers. He can't go anywhere near any guns, and he can't contact  Nugent's family.

"He will be stepping into a very supportive atmosphere where he already has a job, he has a place to live in a nice neighborhood," Richard Linklater testified.

Tiede was the man everyone knew in Carthage. Most of them loved him. And some of his old friends were in court to welcome him back to a life of freedom.

"He has spent I don't know how many years in prison, but if he asks for forgiveness, hey, let him go," Ruby Blackshire said.

"I think he's going to be fine," Reba Tarjick said. "I think Bernie's going to be fine. I don't think anybody has anything to fear with Bernie. I think a lot of people would be afraid, but I wouldn't be afraid to live next door to him."

Nugent's family was not in court Tuesday. They are on record as saying they believe he should remain in prison for the rest of his life.

Judge' DeVasto's decision will serve as a recommendation to the Texas Court of Appeals which has final say over whether Tiede remains a free man.


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