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

Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:42am EDT
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By Marice Richter

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.   Continued...