Others yet unnamed...
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 15, 2003
LAS VEGAS - The retrial of Sandra Murphy and Rick Tabish is expected
to draw hoards of national media back to Sin City. In response to an appeal
filed by Murphy and Tabish's attorneys, the Nevada Supreme Court last summer
the May, 2000 guilty verdict that convicted the duo of first degree murder
in the death of Horseshoe casino owner Ted Binion. The high court then
remanded the case back for a second trial. Both defendants continue to
profess their innocence.
Though the appeal court found that the first trial was severely flawed,
they still remanded the case back to the original judge. Clark County District
Court Judge Joseph Bonaventure has often been accused of bias
in this case, and was once asked to step down. He refused. The retrial
is expected to take place in his court later this year.
Murphy and Tabish wave at family
members in court Judge Bonaventure admonishes Murphy
Through sources that wish to remain anonymous, INSIDE VEGAS obtained
exclusive copies of Nevada Gaming Control Board Intelligence Reports, a
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Report, and an answering machine tape that
for unknown reasons were not entered into evidence at the first trial.
The documents and tape may shed light on others yet unnamed who had severe
animus toward Binion, and as some believe, should be considered suspects
in his mysterious death.
According to Murphy, in 1998, three unwelcome visitors were ordered
off Ted Binion's Palomino Lane property at gunpoint. The visitors reportedly
included Ted's brother-in-law Nick Behnen and his son Benny, along with
Grover "Chance" LeSueur.
The obvious animosity between the Behnens and Ted Binion surfaced publicly
in June of 1997 when Binion filed a police report accusing his nephew and
several others of participating in a drive-by shooting at his estate.
One of the accused drive-by shooters, "Chance" LeSueur, is referred
to on the answering machine tape. On the tape, Nick Behnen reportedly told
LeSueur, "Trust me. You're not going to throw down. You come to rob
me...Now you tell this guy this. You ever had this gun to you before?...Oh
you think this is funny. Cause this is how they look, this is how they
read out of the book see, this just like it happens, everybody just kind
of visits and then pretty soon -- pop."
LeSueur was reportedly being held against his will at the time of the
Following the drive-by shooting, LeSueur was initially charged with
attempted murder, but eventually pleaded guilty to lesser charges. On May
24, 2001, LeSueur, was found
dead of unknown causes in Mesa, Arizona. He was 24.
Behnens grieving at trial
(L to R) Benny, Becky, & Nick
In confidential state Gaming Control Board documents,
Murphy described an event wherein she claimed to witness Nick and Benny
Behnen visiting Ted Binion's house. She said both Behnens were intoxicated
and engaged in a "screaming match" with Binion in the garage. Binion reportedly
grabbed a shotgun and cocked it saying "Get the hell out of here." The
Behnen's left the property, however Nick Behnen called Ted later that night
and left the eleven messages on his answering machine.
In another incident according to Murphy, a Behnen
associate named Russell "R.D." Matthews came over to Binion's house with
Benny Behnen wishing to talk to Ted. She said she opened the door "like
a dummy." They allegedly forced their way in. Murphy stated, "I tried to
shut the door on them, but they pushed me aside. I said Ted is in his room
sleeping, but he got up and began yelling at R.D. and Benny, and it got
to be a scene. Then R.D. left and told Ted that he was 'going to be sorry.'"
To fuel further speculation that persons other than Murphy and Tabish
may have had reason to dispose of Binion; the day before his Sept. 17,
1998 death, Binion gave $50,000 to an unsuccessful candidate for Nevada
Governor. It was thought that if the candidate -- then Las Vegas Mayor
Jan Jones -- won the election, she would reinstate Binion's gaming license
prompting speculation that he might try to take back the Horseshoe from
his sister and her family, a family that was becoming increasingly dysfunctional.
This, at a time when the Horseshoe had been losing
money continuously since the unfriendly takeover by the rival sibling
-- though Becky Behnen strongly denied
the business was in dire straights before or after her brother's death.
Also, had Murphy not been convicted of his murder, she would have inherited
a large portion of Binion's multimillion-dollar estate including his mansion
where it was suspected that he had buried
treasure. Because of her conviction, Binion's entire fortune went to
his family members, some of whom later squandered it away.
After the trial, the Horseshoe continued to fall on hard
times while 24 year old Benny was often spotted at expensive stores
making extravagant purchases and throwing money around at night clubs and
In the meantime, the IRS just placed a tax lien on the 52-year-old downtown
casino claiming the Behnens have yet to pay $5 million in past due payroll
taxes. In addition, the Behnens are in a legal battle with the Fremont
Street Experience over more than $2.5 million in unpaid dues to the pedestrian
mall. The property also has been behind on lease payments owed to landlords,
and behind on employee's health care premiums. Even the much photographed
Million Dollar Horseshoe display was cashed in to keep the casino afloat.
Unidentified men pose in front
now-dismantled Million Dollar
Horseshoe display (LV SUN)
Now that the casino is unable to financially support candidates running
for public office -- candidates that have long included District Court
Judges and District Attorneys -- or pay
witnesses up to $20,000 each to testify, the upcoming retrial is expected
to be unencumbered by political influence. If so, newly acquired information
about other persons who may have wanted to see Binion out of the way, or
the distinct possibility that he actually died of an overdose of narcotics
as was first thought, may finally bring this sordid story to an equitable
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com