Convicted killers to get another day in court

LAS VEGAS - Convicted murderers Rick Tabish and Sandy Murphy are getting another day - or more - in court.

The judge in the Ted Binion murder case said Friday he will allow defense attorneys to call witnesses and present evidence on several issues including juror misconduct beginning Aug. 11. The hearing is part of the defense attorneys' bid for a new trial.

''I believe it would be in error for this court to deny an evidentiary hearing,'' District Judge Joseph Bonaventure said.

Defense attorneys will have one of the jurors - who took eight days to convict Tabish, 35, and Murphy, 28 - testify about alleged juror misconduct.

Chief Deputy District David Wall said he could only justify testimony from the other jurors if ''there is something besides hearsay before the court.''

Prosecutors on Thursday filed affidavits from the other 11 panelists denying the allegations. Among the allegations are that the jury relied heavily on an unofficial summary of jury instructions and that the jury foreman created his own timeline of the case and presented it to other jurors.

''Once the juror is excused I want them to be forever free of this process,'' admonished Bonaventure, who added the hearing is strictly a fact-finding endeavor and not meant to embarrass the jurors.

Tabish and Murphy were convicted May 19 of the September 1998 murder of Binion. Prosecutors say Murphy, who was Binion's live-in girlfriend, and Tabish, who became her lover, killed the wealthy gambler for his money.

Prosecutors say Binion was forced to ingest heroin and the prescribed sedative Xanax, then suffocated at the Las Vegas home he shared with Murphy. Defense attorneys counter that Binion was a longtime drug abuser who died of an accidental or intentional overdose.

The jury recommended Tabish and Murphy be sentenced to life in prison with parole possible after 20 years. They are scheduled to be formally sentenced on other charges in the case Sept. 8.

Bonaventure also ruled Friday that defense attorneys can provide additional evidence relating to Tabish's former cellmate. They allege that David Gomez is a snitch who was planted in the same cell with Tabish to gather evidence.

Bill Terry, Tabish's attorney, said Gomez, who refused to testify earlier, has agreed to testify during the hearing.

Bonaventure added that while he would allow testimony concerning the ineffectiveness of the previous defense counsel, he will not rule on that issue.

Terry is trying to determine whether any members of the defense team received money for movie or book deals. If Terry can prove they did, it could be ruled a conflict of interest and a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.


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