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Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish Trial: 2000

Sandy Murphy Becomes A Suspect, The Trial Attracts Publicity, Suggestions For Further Reading

Defendants: Sandra "Sandy" Murphy, Richard B. "Rick" Tabish
Crime Charged: Murder, grand larceny, burglary
Chief Defense Lawyers: John Momot, Louis Palazzo
Chief Prosecutor: David Roger
Judge: Joseph Bonaventure
Place: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date of Trial: March 27-May 18, 2000 (Appeal pending before Nevada Supreme Court)
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Life in prison with possibility of parole

SIGNIFICANCE: The outcome of this high-profile trial ultimately hinged on how jurors believed Ted Binion died. Did he commit suicide by a drug overdose or was he smothered to death after being forced to ingest heroin and Xanax by his live-in girlfriend and her cash-strapped secret lover? The publicity drenched case touched off a media frenzy outside the courtroom and fueled fears that unprecedented public relations ploys could influence what goes on inside a courtroom, especially when a jury is not sequestered.

For two years, the mysterious death of casino millionaire Lonnie "Ted" Binion and the subsequent trial of his former girlfriend Sandy Murphy and her lover Rick Tabish mesmerized Las Vegas. This bizarre story of lust, addiction, buried treasure, blackmail, greed, celebrity, murder—not to mention unprecedented public relations ploys outside the courtroom—burnished the glitzy gambling capital's worldwide reputation for tackiness.

During her murder trial, former exotic dancer Murphy, 27, would claim that when she left the mansion she shared with boyfriend Binion on the morning of September 18, 1998, he was sleeping off a heroin-induced stupor. Upon returning, she found the 55-year-old gambling mogul dead on the den floor. Distraught, she dialed 911.

Authorities arrested 34-year-old Rick Tabish and two alleged accomplices two days after Binion's death, as they were digging up 46,000 pounds of silver bars Binion had buried in a desert vault. Tabish told police that he was following Binion's earlier instructions that the $7 million treasure be safeguarded for his teenage daughter Bonnie.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to Present