CARTHAGE, Texas (AP) — The man whose murder conviction inspired the dark comedy "Bernie" is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday in an effort to stay out of prison.

Tuesday's hearing for Bernie Tiede in the East Texas town of Carthage is being held ahead of a trial scheduled for January.

The Austin American-Statesman reports (http://atxne.ws/1kHlgcs ) the trial will have a twofold purpose: a sentencing phase for his murder conviction and a trial on theft charges.

Tiede served 17 years in prison for killing wealthy widow Marjorie Nugent and storing her body in a freezer. He was released last year after a prosecutor agreed that the former mortician was wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment.

Nugent's family wants him returned to prison, and convicted of theft for spending about $618,000 of Nugent's money.