LAS VEGAS - Twenty years ago today, gaming executive Ted Binion died of an apparent drug overdose, but his death was prosecuted as a homicide, and the trial became a media sensation that was followed all over the country.
The trial changed the lives of everyone involved. Both of the prosecutors were elected to public office, but a second trial ended in acquittals for Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish.
Former Clark County District Attorney David Roger spoke to I-Team Chief Reporter George Knapp about why the second trial went awry for prosecutors.
George Knapp: "So, you convict them. There was an appeal and then a second trial. Did you consider taking it on yourself?"
David Roger: "No, this; I was just elected District Attorney. I was thinking, what did I get myself into? And this type of case, you can't just walk in with a file and try it. This was a 6-week long trial. There was no way I could take that time away from my responsibilities as D.A."
George Knapp: "Part of you -- part of you wanted to be there though."
David Roger: "I love trials. It’s almost like a junkie. It’s a high that you get as you’re trying a case and you’re building to an end, and you’re watching the jury. There’s suspense, and of course the thrill of victory."
George Knapp: "What was the difference in the second trial? Obviously, there were different attorneys on both sides but what was the big difference?"
David Roger: "They had a roadmap. They could patch up the areas of their case that didn’t go well the first time. They had a lot of medical experts to come in and contradict Dr.Baden, and they created doubt in the jurors' minds, and I think that the jury probably felt that Rick Tabish and Sandy Murphy were opportunists. I think they convicted them of the grand larceny. I think they felt Ted died of an overdose and they went out to get all of the silver out of the desert."
George Knapp: "Basically, they got away with murder, you think?"
David Roger: "Absolutely. They killed Ted Binion. They killed him for his money because they had a relationship. Love and money. And silver."
Sandy Murphy is married and living in southern California. Rick Tabish served a prison term for the theft of Ted Binion’s silver and now lives in Montana where his family resides.
Both were acquitted of murder charges, and both have denied having anything to do with Ted Binion’s death.
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