AUSTIN (KXAN) – Just a day after a judge granted a convicted killer an early release from prison, KXAN News crews spotted him in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
Bernie Tiede is living with filmmaker Richard Linklater as a condition for his release.
Tiede was convicted in 1999 of murdering Majorie Nugent and was sentenced to life in prison. New information that he had been sexually abused as a child surfaced following his conviction. It also came out he had been abused by 81-year-old Nugent, the millionairess he shot.
Tiede’s case received a new look after the 2012 film “Bernie” by Austin director Richard Linklater, who was drawn to the material.
He says, “I grew up in east Texas, I knew guys like Bernie, I knew people like Mrs. Nugent. The more you study the case it’s a classic domestic abuse, but strangely an older woman abusing a younger man.”
In the film, Bernie is played by Jack Black and Marjorie is portrayed by Shirley MacLaine.
Matthew McConaughey appeared as District Attorney Danny “Buck” Davidson, who Linklater credits with being willing to re-examine the case.
The director points out, “His attitude was I am not here to get convictions, I’m here to see justice done. That’s the words out of a tough D.A.”.
Bernie’s attorney, Jodi Cole, argued that Tiede should have a lighter sentence due to the abuse and because he had an abusive relationship with Nugent prior to her death. The prosecutor agreed and argued for a lesser sentence.
Linklater got to know Bernie while visiting him in prison, “I saw how he related to people, a much beloved guy. He wanted to help other people.”
Now Bernie Tiede is a licensed paralegal with a job at an Austin firm.
Linklater is happy for him, “He’s done seventeen years. It was like being Rip Van Winkle. It’s a new world he’s stepping into. He’s a free person now and can be a productive member of society. That’s all any person wants.”
The judge ordered a $10,000 bond for Tiede while the sentence reduction works its way through the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
He must also take random drug tests, visit county authorities regularly, surrender his passport, have no contact with the media or the victim’s family, and may not have possession of a firearm.