Counselor: Sexual abuse just a piece of Tiede's release - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Counselor: Sexual abuse just a piece of Tiede's release

Bernie Tiede leaves the Panola Co. courthouse on Tuesday after a hearing released him on bond. (Source: KLTV Staff) Bernie Tiede leaves the Panola Co. courthouse on Tuesday after a hearing released him on bond. (Source: KLTV Staff)

An East Texas psychological counselor said though sexual abuse does cause many issues, it is not a sole reason for murder.

Bernie was convicted of first degree murder in 1999 after he shot and killed East Texas millionaire Marjorie Nugent. His sentence was life in prison with no possibility of parole until 2027. That was until Tuesday, when officials said new evidence changed their minds.

“If that evidence had been presented to the jury would it have been evidence that could have led to a charge of a felony of the second degree, instead of five to ninety-nine or life? As I understand the law, yes, it would have," said prosecutor Danny Buck Davidson.

The court said that the evidence that Bernie Tiede was sexually abused as a child would have lessened his crime to second degree murder. The penalty for that crime would have put him up for parole years ago. One Tyler counselor explained how that sexual abuse could have played a role in the murder of Nugent.

“Sexual abuse does not cause someone to murder anyone,” said Nicole Grant, a licensed professional counselor.

But, she said, it could certainly be one piece. Grant has never worked on the Tiede case, but said any child sexual abuse victim can carry the effects into adulthood.

“Being able to survive as a sexually abused child they do detach,” she explained. “They space out so that they don’t have to feel the pain or this sense of, 'you’re supposed to be trusting this person, but they’re harming me.'"

And, she said, the effects of that abuse may have continued into Tiede’s relationship with Nugent.

“I think they were right on. It built up over time. If they’ve had some of these rage issues or depressed issues and they’re just suppressed and then he got to a certain point and he couldn’t take it anymore,” said Grant.

The court said Tiede had a dissociative episode, allowing him to live his life as normal for nine months after the murder.

That was possibly a learned behavior, Grant said, from his previous abuse.

“He may have been in that detached mode and that spaced out and carrying on some daily tasks, but he didn’t associate the murder or the negative things that he had done,” she explained.

Grant said his job working with dead bodies daily could have furthered that ability to push out unpleasant pieces of his life.

“He did care about his work and how he did preserving bodies and that was an odd way of showing caring,” she said.

Tiede staying in an abusive relationship, Grant said, is understandable.

“That’s what he expected from the people that are close to him. That’s what he experienced as a child, therefore his relationships as an adult, he may have thought that that was the norm,” she said of Tiede’s relationship with Nugent.

All of these factors, not just sexual abuse, manifested, in Tiede’s mind, she suspected.

“If we want to call it a perfect or imperfect storm, it’s not going to recreate itself. I don’t think Bernhard Tiede’s a danger to the women, the children, the old men like myself or others in Texans,” Dr. Edward Gripon, a psychologist on the Tiede case said.

And the court thought all those pieces added up, too. Tiede is not free just yet, he is currently out on bond. That means his case now has to go to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals.

A decision could take several weeks to determine if time served is sufficient for Tiede's actions.

In the meantime, Bernie will be living in Austin with the Richard Linklater, the director who made the movie "Bernie," which is based on Tiede's relationship with Nugent.

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