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Tabish talked about stealing Binion's fortune, witness says

Tabish talked about stealing Binion's fortune, witness says

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Former business partner takes the stand

LAS VEGAS - A Montana contractor talked about pumping Ted Binion full of drugs and then stealing the gambling figure's silver fortune, a witness testified Friday.

Rick Tabish "mentioned that Binion had a lot of silver and he was going to get his hands on it," Leo Casey, Tabish's former business partner, testified at a preliminary hearing for six people linked to the Binion case. "He said that he was going to take it out in the desert and, you know, bury it and then it would be in his control."

Casey said Tabish told him stealing Binion's money would be a lot easier because he was having an affair with Binion's live-in girlfriend, Sandra Murphy.

Murphy and Tabish, of Missoula, are charged with Binion's Sept. 17 murder. Prosecutors believe he was either suffocated or forced to ingest lethal amounts of heroin and the prescription drug Xanax. Defense attorneys are trying to portray Binion as a sick drug addict who overdosed.

Casey testified how Tabish and another defendant, Steven Wadkins, beat and tortured him on July 28, 1998, in an effort to get him to turn over his interests in equipment at the Jean sand pit.

Casey said thumbcuffs were placed on his thumbs and Tabish beat him in the head with a telephone book. "They told me I was going to sign the documents they had or be killed," he said.

Casey testified that Wadkins stuck a gun in his mouth and ears, put a knife underneath his fingernails and threatened to cut his fingers off.

He said Tabish then instructed Wadkins to dig a hole with a frontloader. Tabish threatened to bury Casey in the hole, Casey testified.

Casey said Tabish called another defendant, John Joseph, after the incident and said, "We've accomplished what you've asked us to do." Casey said he signed the documents and left town the next day.

The preliminary hearing continues Monday.

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