The 1996 murder of Marjorie Nugent by Bernie Tiede was a horrific event. Though he received a life sentence for first degree murder, Tiede was released from prison in 2014. The release came after he claimed to have been sexually abused as a child. If true, this revelation would support his claim that he impulsively lashed out at Nugent, because prior sexual abuse can cause someone to enter a dissociative state that impairs judgment. This means his crime would not have been premeditated, and therefore not first degree murder. The charge would actually be second degree murder, and that does not carry a life sentence.
Bernie Tiede’s behavior after the murder, where he behaved normally in public for nine months, was eerily similar to Michelle Duggar’s calm and sweet public persona whenever something horrific happens in her life (son outed as a sex predator, phoning 911 for her daughter, etc).
However, Nugent’s surviving family still believes the murder was premeditated. Here is part of a response sent from Ryan Gravatt, spokesman for the Nugent family:
A couple things to note… Mr. Tiede never proved he was sexually abused. He only alleged it. His allegation was reason enough the local district attorney proceeded with his appeal, which has temporarily gotten Mr. Tiede out of prison. I say temporarily because Mr. Tiede’s punishment for premeditated murder is under review, and a trial is set for early January to review Mr. Tiede’s allegations and motivations for murdering Marjorie Nugent. It’s important to point out that the sexual abuse claims are not yet proven because, as terrible as the allegations are, Mr. Tiede will need to substantiate the claims in court, and a jury will have to decide the claims are true. And even if the allegations are proven to be true, it’s tough to prove under Texas law that the repressed memory is sufficient for the ‘sudden passion’ claim for killing a defenseless elderly woman and defrauding her estate of more than $800,000. Also, at the time of his confession in 1997, Mr. Tiede said he considered Marjorie a harmless woman. So his claims that she abused him may not hold enough truth in a jury trial. And during his original trial, Mr. Tiede never used the ‘sudden passion’ defense. So, a jury likely will be skeptical when Mr. Tiede claims this up in court, especially considering how Mr. Tiede methodically planned the murder. His confession to planing the murder makes his ‘sudden passion’ seem implausible.
To obtain more information about Marjorie Nugent and the facts surrounding the case, this website is set up in her honor by the Nugent family.