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Associated Press Man says Tabish asked him to construct alibis

LAS VEGAS - Murder defendant Rick Tabish sent letters to a business associate asking that he orchestrate alibis in the death of Ted Binion, imploring "My life is on the line and we have to fight fire with fire."

"Let's get some stuff handled and pay attention to business," Tabish wrote in a letter to Jason Frazer of Missoula.

Prosecutors thought Frazer would be their best witness, and they saved him for Wednesday to put the finishing touches on their case in the trial for the murder of the well-known gambler.

Tabish and his alleged lover, Binion's live-in girlfriend Sandra Murphy, are charged with killing Binion on Sept. 17, 1998, and stealing his valuables.

A second letter from Tabish to Frazer asked him to contact a man named Larry Eckert to help with an alibi for the 17th.

"Tell Larry they are trying to send me to the gas chamber and I need his help. He can be a great witness. … If this thing comes together … this murder case will be done on my end. This is a slam dunk if everyone sticks in."

The letter said the "rewards are huge" for those helping provide the alibis.

Frazer, who testified under a grant of immunity, said Tabish talked of "huge payouts in book and movie rights," with long-term residuals in the millions.

Frazer said he had worked with and for Tabish, a Missoula contractor, since 1994. Frazer said Tabish called him June 24, 1999, and asked him to come to Las Vegas. That was the day Tabish and Murphy were arrested at a local supermarket and booked on murder charges.

Frazer said he met Tabish the next day at the Clark County Detention Center and the two communicated with notes, rather than talking on the telephone in a visitor area.

Frazer said Tabish asked him to contact some people to help with his alibi and he made contact with them in the days that followed.

Frazer's testimony came as the trial reached the midway point after four weeks. The defense is scheduled to begin presenting its case Thursday.

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

Defense attorneys contend Binion, a longtime drug-user, died of an accidental drug overdose or committed suicide.

Ed Guenther, a fingerprint examiner, testified an empty Xanax bottle found at the scene was clean of any fingerprints. He said he found fingerprints identified as Murphy's on a wine glass recovered at Binion's home. And he said he found fingerprints of both Murphy and Tabish on an inventory list of rare coins Binion owned.

Under cross-examination, Guenther agreed fingerprints could last for years on a hard surface such as a glass. Defense attorney John Momot noted that several people, including Tabish, Murphy and Binion, were on hand when the coin collection was moved from the Binion family's Horseshoe hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas in June 1998.

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