AUSTIN - Bernie Tiede, the former Texas mortician whose legal issues were the subject of the 2011 film, "Bernie," will continue serving 99 years or life in prison for killing an 80-year-old woman who he was caring for.
In 1997, a missing person investigation led police to the body of Marjorie M. Nugent. She had been shot in the back four times and stuffed into her own deep freezer. A 1999 jury trial resulted in the conviction of Tiede, her full-time caretaker and companion. During the punishment phase of that first trial, the jury rejected Tiede's claim that sudden passion arised from an adequate cause, which would have reduced his punishment.
According to KVUE's news partners at the Austin American-Statesman, Tiede was granted a new sentencing-phase trial, arguing that he had acted on sudden passion based on childhood abuse, which would make him eligible for no more than 20 years in prison. He was free on bond for two years before jurors rejected his claims and gave him a new 99-year-sentence.
In an appeal, Tiede argued that the trial court should have enforced an agreement -- reached by his lawyers and Danny Buck Davidson, the Panola County criminal district attorney -- to seek a sentence equaling the almost 17 years Tiede had already served in prison.
In documents from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court ruled that there was no evidence that Davidson had reached that agreement with Tiede's lawyer before he eventually stepped aside from the case. That decision was made Wednesday.
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