Defendant's dramatic 911 call played at trial

LAS VEGAS - Murder defendant Sandra Murphy clutched her head and sobbed Thursday as tapes were played of her interview with police in the hours after the death of boyfriend Ted Binion.

Later a doctor specializing in pathology and toxicology said the well-known gambler was creating ''a recipe for disaster'' when he took heroin, Valium and the prescription anti-depressant Xanax.

Binion was found dead at his Las Vegas home Sept. 17, 1998. Defense attorney John Momot played a 911 tape from that day in which a frantic Murphy is heard crying for help, sobbing ''My husband has stopped breathing.''

Murphy and her lover, Missoula, Mont., contractor Rick Tabish, are on trial, accused of killing Binion by forcing him to ingest a lethal dose of heroin and Xanax, then suffocating him.

Defense attorneys claim Binion, a longtime drug user, accidentally took a lethal dose of the drugs or committed suicide.

Murphy sobbed as Momot played a 13-minute tape of an interview she conducted with a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detective at Valley Hospital Medical Center, three hours after she discovered Binion's body in the den at his home.

Much of the tape was unintelligible, with Murphy often wailing hysterically.

Hospital workers called by the prosecution earlier in the trial claimed Murphy was ''theatrical'' during the police interview in the emergency room, where she was brought after discovering the body.

Jurors followed intently from a written transcript as the police interview tape was played.

Murphy told detective Jim Mitchell that Binion was sick the night before he died and had asked her for heroin he had obtained from a dealer and Xanax pills prescribed by a neighbor, who was a doctor.

She said she last saw him alive earlier on the day of his death.

''He looked like he was sleeping. I thought he was sleeping and he wouldn't wake up, he wouldn't wake up, he wouldn't wake up. He wouldn't wake up. Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh God!'' Murphy cried on the tape.

As the tape was played, Murphy began to sob, at one time putting her head on the defense table, another time holding her head in her hands. She continued to sob throughout the playing of the tape and after it was finished.

On the tape, Murphy said Binion awakened her in the middle of the night, saying he might be sick and wanted her to watch him.

''He said he might have a seizure and to please watch him,'' she said on the tape. ''I should've never left. I should've never left. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.''

She said she laid with him for a while during the night, then fell asleep, later leaving the house for a few hours while he was sleeping.

She said she returned and Binion was ''still sleeping and he wouldn't wake up and I tried to make him breathe and he wouldn't breathe, he wouldn't breathe, he wouldn't breathe.''

Dr. Jack Snyder, a pathologist and toxicologist, said an autopsy revealed heroin, Xanax and Valium in Binion's blood. He called the combination ''a triple whammy'' that can impair respiration and cause death.

He said some individuals use Xanax to enhance the effects of heroin. In some cases, Xanax or Valium also can be prescribed to wean someone from heroin, Snyder said.

Autopsy reports showed Binion was using all three drugs and that created ''a recipe for disaster,'' Snyder said.

Most heroin deaths today involve using another drug with heroin, Snyder said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment