Hearing set on allegations of pilfered panties
LAS VEGAS – Sandra Murphy, charged with killing live-in lover and gambling heir Ted Binion, claims jailers pilfered her panties while she was incarcerated for a week of attitude adjustment.
A judge set a Nov. 15 hearing, incensing the prosecutor in her murder case.
”I don’t think our judicial system should be used as a three-ring circus,” David Roger, Clark County chief deputy district attorney, said Wednesday.
Roger described the latest chapter in the celebrated case as ”baloney.”
Defense attorney John Momot Tuesday filed a motion with state District Court asking that the underwear be returned. He suggested authorities may have taken the panties in order to conduct scientific tests on bodily fluids.
”Either they pilfered the panties for some other reason, or someone is doing some testing,” Momot said Wednesday. ”I don’t need to be caught off guard in the middle of a trial.”
Ms. Murphy, 27, a former topless dancer, and her reported lover, Rick Tabish, 34, are charged in the Sept. 17, 1998, murder of Binion at his Las Vegas home. Trial for the couple is scheduled March 13.
Roger denied the missing panties were part of a scheme to conduct scientific tests.
”I have executed search warrants in this case, we have obtained court orders for handwriting samples,” Roger said. ”If we want samples of body fluids, we know the proper avenues to take.”
Ms. Murphy and Tabish were arrested in June. She was released in July on $300,000 cash bail, but was returned to jail for a week on Oct. 21 when she failed to check in with authorities while on house arrest.
District Judge Joseph Bonaventure ordered the incarceration, lambasting Ms. Murphy for her ”cavalier attitude.” He cited her demeanor in court and noted that she once painted her ankle monitoring bracelet gold to match the color of her clothes.
Momot’s motion said Ms. Murphy’s clothes were confiscated when she was booked into the Clark County Detention Center. She stuffed the panties in a pocket of her jeans, and the items were stored in a plastic bag that was then closed.
When she checked out, the panties were no longer in the bag, Momot said.
”At the time of her release back to house arrest, we were of the understanding she had received all her property back,” Capt. Henry Hoogland, an officer at the detention center, said Wednesday. ”I can’t account for them beyond our contention that she received all of her property back at the time of release.”
Hoogland said officers searched the area where Ms. Murphy changed clothes, and the area where the plastic bag was kept, but found no panties.
Roger said it shouldn’t be up to authorities to search for the missing underwear.
”Sandy Murphy has her attorneys and competent investigators who can search for the missing panties,” he said.
Prosecutors contend Binion, a member of a prominent Las Vegas casino family, was forced to ingest potentially lethal amounts of heroin and the prescription sedative Xanax and was suffocated.
Tabish, a Missoula, Mont. contractor, is being held without bail.