Attorney testifies Binion ordered Murphy removed from will
LAS VEGAS - Ted Binion's longtime attorney testified the well-known gambling figure ordered girlfriend Sandra Murphy removed from his will and expressed concern she might kill him. Prosecutors claim she did so, 24 hours later.
Jim Brown, a friend of Binion's since the mid-1950s, testified Thursday that Binion called him Sept. 16, 1998, and asked him to remove Murphy from his will.
"He said, 'Take Sandy out of the will. If she doesn't kill me tonight … if I'm dead you'll know what happened.' "
The testimony came in the trial of Murphy and her lover, Rick Tabish, a Missoula contractor, who are charged with killing Binion on Sept. 17, 1998, with a lethal dose of heroin and the prescription anti-depressant Xanax.
Defense attorneys contend Binion, a longtime drug user, died of an accidental drug overdose or committed suicide.
Brown said Binion was "chipper" when the two talked the day before he died, and there was nothing to suggest he might kill himself.
The attorney said Binion and Murphy had a cohabitation agreement that would have given the former topless dancer some stock and a car if they split. He said the Binion will was later changed to give her Binion's $900,000 home, $300,000 cash and the car if he died.
Brown said Binion called Sept. 16 directing that she be removed from the will and he scratched in the changes the next day, leaving them for his secretary to type. Later the same day he learned Binion was dead.
Brown said he had a confrontation the next day when Murphy tried to get in the Binion home. He testified police allowed Murphy to enter the home despite his protests and he had to obtain a court order to take possession of the property.
He said Murphy asked why he was trying to ban her from the home and he told her Binion wanted her cut from the will. Murphy called him a liar, Brown said.
Brown and Murphy then took a tour of the house, which was videotaped, to categorize what was in the home less than 24 hours after Binion was found dead in his den.
Prosecutors contend cash and other valuables were stolen from the house.
Earlier, Binion's teen-age daughter, Bonnie, wept as she recounted emotional times with her father, later admitting under cross-examination the two had weathered a sometimes-stormy relationship.
Binion dabbed at tears as she recounted growing up as the lone sibling of one of the city's leading casino families.
"Did you love your father?" David Roger, Clark County deputy district attorney, asked the 19-year-old.
"Very much," she said, her voice breaking.
She said she elected to remain with her father when her parents divorced, then went shopping for a boarding school when her grades plummeted in the wake of the breakup.
The daughter said she would try to call her father from the East Coast school but was rebuked by Murphy, who moved into the home a few days after the divorce.
"She no longer wanted me to return to the house," Bonnie Binion said. "She had threatened to kill both of us."
She recounted a June 1998 visit home when her father approached her car, with Murphy following.
"She was screaming and yelling at me, that she didn't want me on the property and she would call the police if I didn't leave. She called me a bitch," Bonnie Binion said.
She also testified that her father had sizable amounts of cash - $20,000 to $100,000 at a time - hidden throughout the house, along with coin collections and other valuables.