March 31, 2015 / 6:43 AM / 2 years ago

Prosecutor seeks to withdraw from case of murderer depicted in film 'Bernie'

DALLAS (Reuters) - The Texas prosecutor who won a murder conviction against a former mortician whose story inspired the 2011 film “Bernie,” asked on Monday to be recused from prosecuting the man’s re-sentencing, court records show.

Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson filed the motion asking that he and other prosecutors in his office be recused and that a special prosecutor be appointed.

“Due to the fact that I have become, through no fault of my own, a witness in the case, I cannot remain the prosecutor,” Davidson said in the motion.

Davidson did not specify how he has become a witness but filed the motion ahead of a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Tuesday, when Tiede was due back in court.

A Texas appeals court ruled in November that Tiede, 56, was entitled to reconsideration of his sentence of life in prison for the murder of wealthy 81-year-old East Texas widow, Marjorie Nugent. He had been convicted of shooting her to death in 1996 and hiding her body in a freezer.

Attorneys for Tiede argued that new evidence suggested he was sexually abused as a child, which caused him to snap and shoot Nugent in a fit of rage.

The jury ruled out sudden passion and sentenced Tiede in 1999 to the maximum of life in prison for premeditated murder.

Tiede was released from prison on a $10,000 personal bond last May and had been living with “Bernie” filmmaker Richard Linklater in Austin.

A dark comedy, “Bernie” chronicles the relationship between Nugent and Tiede, who left his job as an assistant funeral director in the town of Carthage to become business manager and personal companion to Nugent.

The film stars Jack Black as Tiede, Shirley McLaine as Nugent, and Matthew McConaughey as Davidson.

Nugent’s heirs have been pressing to have Tiede returned to prison and prosecuted for stealing around $3.5 million from her.

Editing by Curtis Skinner and Clarence Fernandez

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