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Attorney wants theft charge dismissed in Tiede case

By Glenn Evans gevans@marshallnewsmessenger.com
Jan. 28, 2015 at 10 p.m.

<p>Appointed Judge Diane DeVasto presides over the Bernie Tiede hearing Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014, in the 123rd district court at the Panola County Courthouse in Carthage. (Kevin Green/News-Journal Photo)</p>

The attorney for convicted killer Bernie Tiede argues in a motion filed in Carthage that a pending theft charge against him should be dismissed because the former assistant mortician's homosexuality played against him some 15 years ago.

"Times have changed greatly since Mr. Tiede was charged with this theft," attorney Jodi Cole argues in her motion filed in the 123rd District Court.

Tiede, 56, was freed in May from a life sentence a jury gave him in 1999 for the 1997 shooting death of 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent, his companion and benefactress. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld that decision, by Visiting Judge Diane DeVasto, in November.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin responded to the Nugent family's December request to re-hear the case by saying it would take no action on that suggestion.

DeVasto on Jan. 2 set a June 1 trial date to decide a new sentence for Tiede. She also told Cole and Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson to be ready to argue any pretrial motions, including disposition of the pending theft case, on March 3.

Davidson told the court in May that new evidence of sexual abuse Tiede suffered as a child persuaded him that the 15 years he had been in prison satisfied a lessor murder charge that Davidson would have pursued had he known.

In arguing to dismiss the theft case, which arises from Tiede's handling of the oil widow's millions before and after her death, Cole raises four points.

Nugent's granddaughter on Wednesday said the Austin lawyer is "throwing the kitchen sink" at DeVasto.

"She goes around the block," Shanna Nugent said. "She blames my father, then she calls (prosecutors) homophobic. ... This case is about a guy who targets an elderly, infirm lady ... (and) pulls a financial scam on her."

Nugent's son, Rod Nugent Jr., and his family became embroiled in an estate battle with the elderly woman's sisters after her death.

Cole raises that three-will battle in her motion. The document cites evidence she says reveals a deal offered Tiede to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a 20-year sentence to avoid the release of details regarding his homosexual relationships in Carthage.

Cole also argues Tiede has been denied a speedy trial on the theft indictment, which is 17 years old.

She also claims her client's sexual orientation was used as leverage in allowing his 1999 jury to hear his confession to an investigator.

Cole finally accuses the Nugent family of improperly trying to influence Davidson to hold his time-served agreement over Tiede's head until he pleads guilty to the theft charge.

Davidson, along with other parties in the criminal case, is under a gag order and cannot answer questions about this case.

Shanna Nugent is not.

"I want what is actual justice," she said. "I want a jury of 12 people set in a courtroom, after hearing the arguments of both sides, to make a decision. Jodi Cole doesn't want that. Jodi Cole is terrified of that."

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