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Former lovers cleared of casino mogul's murder

Lisa Sweetingham
Court TV

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Defendant Sandra Murphy is seen in court last week.
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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Court TV) -- A Las Vegas jury acquitted former lovers Sandra Murphy and Richard Tabish of all murder charges Tuesday in the death of casino mogul Ted Binion.

Murphy, 32, and Tabish, 39, were cleared of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and robbery, but found guilty of three other counts -- conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, and grand larceny -- for their 1998 plot to steal Binion's millions in silver and cash.

Murphy, dressed in jeans and a gray T-shirt, wept and hugged her attorneys when the verdict was read. Moments earlier she had been seen holding her head over a garbage can next to the defense table.

After jurors filed from the courtroom following the verdict, Tabish smiled and hugged his father.

The pair face up to 16 years in prison when sentenced January 28.

The seven-man, five-woman panel deliberated for about 19 hours before the verdict was read Tuesday at noon to a packed courtroom.

Lonnie "Ted" Binion, heir to Binion's Horseshoe Casino, was 55 years old when paramedics found his lifeless body in the den of the Las Vegas home he shared with Murphy for three and a half years.

It was Murphy who made the frantic 911 phone call on September 17, 1998, to report that her "husband" wasn't breathing.

Investigators initially thought Binion, a heroin addict, had died from an overdose of heroin and Xanax, drugs he had purchased the day before.

After an intense investigation by the Binion family, Murphy and Tabish were arrested nine months later and charged with murder.

Witnesses, including Binion's daughter, testified that Binion's rare coin collection and more than $20,000 in cash was missing from the home. Former sheriff's deputies testified that they caught Tabish at 2 o'clock the next morning, digging up the last of Binion's $7 million in silver coins and bars from an underground vault in the desert.

The co-defendants admit they were having an affair, but denied any involvement in Binion's death, which they deemed an accidental overdose.

It was Murphy and Tabish's second trial on the charges. In 2000, a jury deliberated for eight days before convicting the pair of murder and grand larceny, among other charges. An appeals court overturned the convictions in 2003, paving the way for the retrial, which began in October.


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