LAS VEGAS - The wayward lovers convicted of killing casino heir Ted Binion should be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years, the same jury that convicted them recommended Wednesday.
Jurors, who deliberated eight days before convicting Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish of first-degree murder, took only an hour and a half to reach their sentencing decision.
The verdict came after a two-day penalty hearing marked by anguished cries of family members, who said Murphy and Tabish were loving people who didn't deserve to spend their lives in prison.
Murphy, 28, sobbed Wednesday as she read a statement pledging her love for Binion and apologizing to the gambler's daughter for leaving him on the day of his Sept. 17, 1998, death.
''I am so sad for all the hopes and dreams, the wedding that will never be and the children that will never come,'' she said, tears streaming down her face.
A string of family members for both Murphy and Tabish also took the stand in an effort to persuade jurors that the lovers should receive the lightest sentence possible.
Murphy and Tabish could have been sentenced to life in prison without parole or to 50 years with parole possible after 20.
Tabish, 35, apologized to his family for the agony he put them through, saying he has refused to allow his young son and daughter to come to Las Vegas to see him since he was jailed 11 months ago.
''Please give me my life,'' he implored, staring at jurors. ''All I ask is I would like to get out of prison in 20 years so I can see my children when they are married.''
He also apologized to Murphy for the pain he said he caused her.
Murphy's stepmother drew gasps from a packed courtroom as she told of her stepdaughter being raped when she was 14 and again when she was 22.
''I'm just here to beg for my daughter's future,'' she sobbed.
Tabish's wife, Mary Jo, recalled having to tell her children, ages 3 and 5, that their father was in jail and wouldn't be coming home until he could convince people of his innocence.
The testimony came during the defense portion of the trial's penalty phase. The same jurors convicted Murphy and Tabish Friday of killing Binion by giving him a lethal dose of heroin and the prescription sedative Xanax. They also found the couple guilty of trying to steal $7 million in silver Binion had stored in a vault in Pahrump.
Formal sentencing will be in 45 to 90 days, when District Judge Joseph Bonaventure will also decide how much additional prison time Murphy and Tabish should serve for the robbery and other convictions.
Murphy took the stand to read an unsworn statement she had composed in jail Tuesday night. She professed her innocence and said she regretted not testifying during her six-week trial.
Murphy, who was Binion's live-in girlfriend and Tabish's lover, said Binion was her true love.
''He was a man who swept me off my feet,'' she said of the son of legendary Nevada gambling figure Benny Binion. ''I thought he would fix the hole in my heart. I miss his face. I miss his voice. I miss his touch.''
She also apologized to Binion's 19-year-old daughter, Bonnie, for leaving her father alone on the day he died, sobbing as she stared at the young woman who sat in the front row of the courtroom and stared back.
And Murphy wept as she talked about ''my friend Rick Tabish, who has stood by me ... for the life he has lost.''