Exonerated, Murphy mulls legal actions after Binion retrial
November 25, 2004
LAS VEGAS – Exonerated in the death of casino heir Ted Binion, former stripper Sandy Murphy is considering a civil-rights lawsuit and plans to pursue at least $1 million left to her in Binion’s will.
Murphy’s lawyers are considering a lawsuit claiming Murphy, Binion’s live-in girlfriend, spent nearly four years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of killing Binion, said John Prendeville, an employee of William Fuller, a wealthy mining executive who paid for Murphy’s defense.
“A civil rights action is a strong possibility,” said Prendeville, who was hired to work with Murphy’s legal team. “It is typical litigation for anyone who has been released after being convicted wrongfully.”
Murphy and Rick Tabish were charged in 1999 with drugging and killing Binion in a plot to steal $7 million in buried silver. The two maintained their innocence but were convicted of murder and other charges in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison.
The convictions were overturned on appeal last year, and Tuesday, after a six-week retrial in the courtroom of District Judge Joseph Bonaventure, Murphy and Tabish were acquitted of murder.
The jury did convict the pair of grand larceny, conspiracy and burglary in the theft of Binion’s estimated $7 million in silver.
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Prendeville said Murphy also plans to pursue the items Binion left to her in his will, including his house, its contents and $300,000.
The proceeds of the sale of the house, roughly $700,000, have been put in a trust account and have been generating interest. Prendeville estimated the total amount of the house, its contents and interest could be close to $1.1 million.
But whether Murphy is entitled to the money is expected to be contested by Binion’s estate. One of Binion’s lawyers, James Brown, has said Binion called the day before he died and told him to take Murphy out of the will.
Litigation over Murphy’s disputed inheritance was put on hold pending the resolution of the murder case. Nevada law prevents someone convicted of murder from inheriting the valuables of their victim. But now that Murphy has been acquitted, she is free to pursue the case.
Prendeville said Murphy plans to pursue a palimony lawsuit previously filed against the Binion estate. The lawsuit contends Murphy should receive compensation for the nearly three years she lived with Binion.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Binion’s daughter against Murphy and Tabish is still pending.
Lawyer Robert Murdock, who represents Tabish in the wrongful-death lawsuit, said he’s optimistic the case will be dismissed.
“Frankly, I think it would be better for all parties if this just went away,” Murdock said.