Pair sentenced for murder of Las Vegas casino heir Binion

Saturday, September 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Las Vegas judge sent a "con man" and a topless dancer to prison Friday for the murder of casino heir Ted Binion, ending the most publicized criminal case in the city's history.

Rick Tabish and Sandra Murphy received slightly less than the maximum term from District Judge Joseph Bonaventure, but both must spend about a quarter century of potential life terms in prison before they will be eligible for parole.

Mr. Tabish, 35, will not have a chance to be freed until he is 62, said David Roger, chief deputy district attorney for Clark County, Nev. Ms. Murphy, 28, who was Mr. Binion's longtime girlfriend, will not be eligible for parole until she is 52.

A jury had already determined that the pair should serve at least 20 years behind bars each. Judge Bonaventure tacked on additional time for conspiracy and other offenses, including a plot by the secret lovers to loot about $8 million in silver from Mr. Binion's underground vault. Mr. Tabish and Ms. Murphy both said they would pursue appeals.

Mr. Tabish received more time because he was also convicted of assault and extortion against a businessman in an attempt to gain control of a construction sand pit in the desert.

Mr. Tabish and Ms. Murphy insisted they were innocent, with Ms. Murphy tearfully telling the judge: "I loved Teddy very much, and we shared a lot of happy times together. I would never hurt him."

But Judge Bonaventure appeared unmoved. "It is the court's hope that, after your period of incarceration, you will awaken from your 'Alice in Wonderland' dream state," the judge told her. "Your involvement in these crimes is horrific and strikes at the very core of trust between significant others."

Las Vegas was captivated by the case for nearly two years, since an apparently frantic Ms. Murphy called 911 on Sept. 17, 1998, to say that Mr. Binion had stopped breathing inside the home the two shared west of The Strip.

The death at first appeared to be the inevitable demise of the hard-living Mr. Binion, whose father – casino legend Benny Binion, a Texas native and former Dallas resident who died in 1989 – founded the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Ted Binion's heroin addiction was almost as well known as his friendships with mobsters and his affinity for strippers.

But after the death was ruled a self-administered overdose, a second autopsy found evidence that Mr. Binion was drugged by force and suffocated.

Mr. Tabish and Ms. Murphy's lawyers said Friday that they will continue to pursue appeals.

Frequently depicted in the media as a fast-living gold-digger, Ms. Murphy said she wanted nothing more than to be a homemaker for Mr. Binion.