Associated Press Binion trial testimony continues

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Missoula man accused of killing Ted Binion lied to officers when they stumbled onto his efforts to remove $7 million in the gambler's silver from an underground vault, a detective testified Monday.

Ed Howard, a detective sergeant with the Nye County Sheriff's office, said Tabish told him he was moving concrete off the property in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 19, 1998.

Howard said he asked Tabish what was in a tractor-trailer at the site, and Tabish replied "nothing."

Dean Pennock, a deputy at the time, then climbed to the top of trailer to view its contents.

Asked Monday what he found, Pennock testified "I saw a whole (expletive)load of silver."

Pennock said Tabish then responded "OK, I'm lying."

Tabish and his lover, Sandra Murphy, are charged with killing Binion and stealing his valuables, including $7 million in silver bars and rare coins buried in the vault in Pahrump, Nev., 60 miles west of Las Vegas.

Prosecutors contend Binion was forced to ingest a lethal dose of heroin and the prescription anti-depressant Xanax, then suffocated.

Defense attorneys contend Binion, a longtime drug user, suffered a fatal overdose or committed suicide.

Binion was found dead at his $900,000 Las Vegas home on Sept. 17, 1998, a day after his attorney claims the well-known gambling figure ordered Murphy, his live-in girlfriend, cut out of the Binion will.

Tabish showed up at the Pahrump vault 36 hours later, to excavate the silver.

Howard testified Tabish told him he had been at the Binion home the day Binion died and the gambler told him "he was going to take a whole bottle of Xanax and his body would be cleansed of the drugs."

On cross-examination, Howard said the comment Binion reportedly made to Tabish was included on a supplemental report the detective filed after the incident.

Howard said he spotted Tabish working with David Mattsen, the foreman of the Binion ranch, and Michael Milot, one of Tabish's drivers.

The vault was near a heavily traveled road in Pahrump.

Howard said he approached Tabish about 2 a.m. and was told the men were removing concrete from the site.

When the silver was discovered, Howard said Tabish told him he was following Binion's wishes to dig up the riches and take them to Los Angeles, where they were to be converted to cash and placed in trust for Binion's daughter, Bonnie.

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