New evidence has brought Bernie Tiede back to Panola County, but he isn't expected to be there for long. Bernie has been in state prison since 1999 serving a life sentence for murder.
Bernie Tiede's story got national attention in 2011 and 2012 when a movie staring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine chronicled the crime he committed. Thursday, Carthage residents were just as split about his return as they were about his guilty verdict more than a decade ago.
"There has been quite a stir around the county about him being back," says Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake.
In 1996, Bernie was charged with the shooting death of Marjorie Nugent. In 2012, he explained how he felt about killing the woman he'd once cared for.
"I can't justify what I did... ever. I have to live with that for the rest of my life and I will. I'm sorry for every bit of that, but it was just a bad situation and it was a one time thing. It just happened and I just snapped. I just snapped," explained Tiede in our jailhouse interview in 2012.
Bernie hid Marjorie's body in a freezer for nine months. He says that's how long it took for people to start looking for her.
"I got scared. Yeah, I got scared... and I didn't know what to do," Tiede said.
Just like the day he left, the people of Panola County still have strong feelings about Bernie Tiede.
"He needs to be sent back because I don't think anybody is safe," says Carthage resident Evelyn Sanders.
"I believe he's very sorry about it. I think it happened in a moment of fear over her anger," says another East Texan.
"I have a strong belief in our law enforcement system, so I figure they must have a good reason for doing what they're doing and that's good enough for me," says Gil Barker of Panola County.
While Bernie's transfer does have people talking, the sheriff says Bernie is no celebrity and he's going to be treated just like any other inmate at the Panola County Detention Center. The sheriff expects for Bernie's stay to be short. Then they'll transfer him back to state prison where he'll finish serving his sentence.
"There's some new evidence that might affect a portion of that case. So that's why he was brought back here," explains Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake.
"I feel like it's more likely that it's something small. It's going to be something to do with some paperwork with the case. I don't think it's going to be anything of great volume or something that's going to impact the case a whole lot," the sheriff went on to say.
Bernie may be back in East Texas, but he's still far from home. The way things stand now, he will be eligible for parole in 2027.
Sheriff Lake says there should be an official hearing regarding this new evidence in Bernie's case. However, the sheriff says he does not know when that hearing will be.
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