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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Positively 6th Street? More twists in the Binion Murder Case

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Six years after the events in Jim McManus' legendary poker book and eight years after the death of casino magnate Ted Binion, there are still more twists and turns in the story. Sandy Murphy, acquitted two years ago in a retrial for Binion's murder, is suing Jack Binion and Las Vegas attorney James Brown (not the departed Godfather of Soul, r.i.p) for selling the younger Binion's home, which she shared with him for three years, for less than fair market value.

The Palomino Lane home was sold under a court order in late 2002 for USD 750,000 to local real estate investor Patrick Haddad.

Murphy, who was 26 at the time of the 55-year-old Binion's death, contends that Binion added her to his will two months before he died, giving her the sprawling 6,000-square-foot home, its contents and USD 300,000 in cash.

The estate, however, argues that Binion cut her out of the will the day before he died and that Murphy is entitled to nothing from his estate.

Murphy filed suit over the sale of the home last month after informal talks to settle the estate fight collapsed. Those talks occurred between Murphy's attorney, Michael Cristalli, and Binion attorney, Mark Ferrario.

The attorneys were attempting to resolve two other lawsuits linked to the estate fight that have been sitting in District Court since 1999 while the dramatic events of the high-profile criminal case were playing out.

Murphy, along with Rick Tabish was convicted of Binion's murder in 2000, but those convictions were later overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court. Tabish is currently serving prison time for unrelated extortion charges, and both were convicted of stealing Binion's buried treasure of silver he had on land he owned in Pahrump, NV.

Eight years after his death, some of the valuables Binion kept at his home and elsewhere - including a USD 300,000 collection of antique coins and currency and a bag of rare Carson City-minted silver dollars worth millions of dollars - are still missing.

Lawsuits have been flying between Murphy and the estate almost since before the body was cold, with Murphy filing a $2 Million palimony suit in May 1999 and the estate filing a wrongful death suit against Murphy later that year. These suits had largely lain by the wayside until this new suit by Murphy, which has escalated legal hostilities on both sides.

"We don't believe Sandy Murphy is entitled to any of the estate's proceeds," Ferrario said. "It's our intention to pursue the wrongful-death case. We believe we will demonstrate that Murphy and Tabish were responsible for Ted Binion's death under the standards that govern a civil case."

In a civil case, unlike a criminal case, there is no need to show guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." A civil verdict may be reached through a preponderance of evidence, but it has no impact on any criminal proceedings. The most famous criminal/civil murder/wrongful death case in US legal history is the O.J. Simpson trial, where he was found not guilty of the murder of his ex-wife, but found liable for her wrongful death in a civil case. Like Simpson, Murphy is protected from being tried for the murder again by the double jeopardy standard of law, which prevents someone from being tried for the same crime more than once if found not guilty.

The Binion family, eight years after this tragedy, is not looking forward to having the murder dragged back into the spotlight. "There never seems to be any closure to Ted's death," said sister Becky Behnen. "I just wish it all would go away."

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