On 11/8/04, Eugene Schoenfeld testified for the defense in the re-trial of the Ted Binion murder trial in Las Vegas. His testimony covered issues of addiction and deaths from combining heroin with benzodiazepines, such as Xanax.
Jurors, however, found Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary or larceny, burglary and grand larceny in a plan to unearth the fortune of Ted Binion. Prosecutors said the heir was drugged and suffocated, while defense lawyers argued Binion, a longtime heroin addict, died of an accidental overdose.
Murphy, 32, and Tabish, 39, each could face up to 16 years in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 28.
The two were acquitted on charges of murder, robbery, and conspiracy to commit murder and/or robbery.
Outside court, Murphy said she was looking forward to spending the holidays with her family in California.
"I'm a little overwhelmed," she said. "I'm a little disappointed, of course, but I'm a true believer in justice. This has definitely restored my faith in the system."
Tabish, hugging his tearful father in the courtroom, said, "This murder thing is behind me. ... We're done with it."
Tabish was to be returned to state prison on other charges, while Murphy remained free on $250,000 bail.
Murphy served four years behind bars before being released on bail, and her lawyer, Michael Cristalli, said she should immediately be eligible for probation when she is sentenced. Tabish's lawyer, Tony Serra, said his client could be released in several years if the judge decides he can serve the sentences concurrently. Tabish already has been in prison for about five years.
This was their second trial. Their original convictions were overturned on appeal last year by the Nevada Supreme Court, which ruled that the judge should have forced prosecutors to try an extortion case against Tabish separately.
During the second trial, prosecutors portrayed Murphy as Binion's greedy girlfriend who was having an affair with Tabish, a former contractor from Missoula, Mont., and a friend of Binion.
Prosecutors said the two hatched a plot to kill Binion by forcing him to ingest lethal levels of heroin and the anti-depressant Xanax and then suffocated him to hasten his death. He was found dead at his home on Sept. 17, 1998.
Prosecutors argued that Tabish was desperate to get his hands on Binion's money because his businesses were failing, and Murphy was afraid the casino executive was going to write her out of his will. Two days after Binion's death, Tabish was arrested as he stole coins and silver out of an underground vault he had installed for Binion.
Binion's family owned the famed Binion's Horseshoe Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas, known for inexpensive steak dinners and high-stakes gambling. But he lost his gaming license over allegations of drug use and ties to a mob figure.
In a news conference shortly after the verdicts were read, jurors said they believed Tabish and Murphy decided to steal Binion's fortune after his death, not before.
The jurors, who refused to give their names, said they did not believe Binion had been suffocated. "It did not seem like murder," one said. --ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, November 24, 2004
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