Monday, April 3, 2000 | 11:33 a.m.
Ted Binion's former wife, Doris, broke down on the witness stand today in the trial of the two people charged with killing the wealthy gambling figure.
Sandy Murphy, Binion's live-in girlfriend, and her lover, Rick Tabish, are standing trial in the courtroom of District Judge Joseph Bonaventure in the Sept. 17, 1998, slaying.
Doris Binion, the first of about 110 prosecution witnesses, broke into tears on two occasions.
She first wept when she testified that she had left Binion briefly in 1983 because of his heroin use. She cried a second time when she talked about a 1995 incident when her former husband beat her and accused her of having an affair with her personal trainer.
Dressed in a conservative black suit, Doris spoke softly when questioned by Chief Deputy District Attorney David Roger.
She testified that Murphy began her affair with her ex-husband while she still was married to the former casino executive.
In March 1995, after learning that Binion and Murphy planned to spend time together at Binion's Pahrump ranch, Doris said she moved out and later obtained a divorce.
Her lawyer, Josh Landish, was scheduled to follow her on the witness stand today.
Landish was present when the 28-year-old Murphy was deposed on Feb. 15, 1996, during the divorce proceedings.
In that 102-page deposition, obtained by the Sun last October, Murphy acknowledged under oath that she danced topless in March 1995 at Cheetah's adult nightclub, a Binion hangout.
Murphy, who described herself as resembling a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, testified that she went to Cheetah's to earn back some $13,000 she had lost gambling at Caesars Palace while visiting from Southern California. She said she originally planned to help a friend sell costumes, but found it more lucrative to dance on stage.
Murphy also explained how she met Binion at Cheetah's and moved into his Palomino Lane home a month later.
She also acknowledged how her relationship with Binion turned violent months after moving in with him.
Over the weekend Bonaventure allowed defense lawyers to view other documents in Binion's sealed divorce proceedings to prepare for their cross-examination of Doris Binion and Landish. Those documents are expected to contain allegations of drug and domestic abuse on Binion's part.
Binion's former wife, meanwhile, testified today that he often hid large sums of money, up to $1 million, and other items of value at their Palomino Lane home. She said he had kept $250,000 in the outboard motor of his boat in the garage.
Murphy and Tabish are charged with stealing Binion's valuables from his home and digging up his buried silver fortune in Pahrump after his death.
Doris Binion testified that she was very familiar with her former husband's addiction to heroin. She testified that he only smoked the street drug.
Police have alleged that Murphy and Tabish pumped Binion with a liquid mixture of the drugs and suffocated him. But defense lawyers contend he died of a self-induced overdose. An autopsy found heroin and the prescription sedative Xanax in Binion's stomach.
Prosecutors today were hoping to begin laying the foundation to establish a romantic relationship between Murphy and Tabish, a 35-year-old married contractor from Missoula, Mont.
Defense attorneys Friday acknowledged the relationship in court for the first time.
Among those on today's witness list were the custodian of records at the Las Vegas Sporting House, where Murphy and Tabish often worked out together, and a clerk at the Beverly Hills hotel in Southern California, where prosecutors allege Murphy and Tabish stayed together in August 1998.
Dante Cabanas, who waited on Tabish and Murphy at their hotel cabana, and limousine driver Keith Johnson, who drove them to dinner one night, also were on today's witness list.