Remember Bernie, the 2011 Richard Linklater film based on a true story about a lovable man in Carthage, Texas (played by Jack Black) who murdered his elderly benefactor and hid her body in a freezer for almost a year before being convicted?
Well, the real life Bernie Tiede, who was sentenced for life, is being freed under two conditions, one of which is straight out of a movie (pun!).
The first condition is that Tiede undergo counseling for the sexual abuse he alleges he suffered as a teen. His allegations of being abused as a kid are basically the reason he’s getting out early.
On Tuesday, according to Skip Hollandsworth—author of the original Texas Monthly article and co-writer on the screenplay—a visiting judge approved a motion "filed by Bernie's attorney Jodi Cole which claimed that if the jurors in the original trial had heard testimony about Bernie being sexually abused by a relative during his teenage years, they most likely would have given him a lesser sentence than life."
So counseling. Check.
And the second condition is that he live with the director of the movie made about him, Rick Linklater.
The director has offered to have Tiede live with him in Austin until he can support himself. But considering his 2014 film Boyhood, which chronicles the life of a boy and was shot over the course of twelve years, Linklater probably has the house rigged with cameras and we should expect to see a Bernie sequel in ten years.
Linklater and Jack Black spent a lot of time with Tiede during the film and Linklater was adamant that Tiede was not a real threat.
“Bernie’s been in 12 years now," Linklater told the Houston Chronicle. "He has to do time, but I think he (got) an extremely harsh sentence. Bernie's not a psychopath or sociopath. I think this was a heightened one-time event. He really is the nicest guy.”
That isn’t hard to believe considering that during his 1999 trial had to be held outside of Carthage—the place of the crime—because Tiede was such a charitable and loved neighbor that the court couldn’t pull together an unbiased jury.
How many other convicted murderers could you say that about?
So I wish Bernie the best, because I have to admit that Linklater's film was moving — and if it's rooted in any bit of truth — we say Free Bernie!
Romina Puga is a pop culture reporter and producer for Fusion. You can find her on "Fusion Now," Fusion's daily TV updates, going over new movies, music, apps, and why D'Angelo is still sexy.