Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sex & Lies in a Lifetime movie

A Las Vegas movie that just aired on Lifetime is based -- loosely -- on a true story. Sex and Lies in Sin City is a made-for-TV film about the reckless life and death of Ted Binion, heir to the Binion Horseshoe Casino fortune. In September 1998, Binion was found dead in his Las Vegas estate by his live-in girlfriend Sandy Murphy. The media at the time made Sandy out to be a murderer. She along with her new boyfriend, Rick Tabish, were charged months later with killing Binion. The problem was, the coroner ruled the case a probable suicide and the police didn't cordone off the house and property to treat it like a crime scene. Binion, who'd been addicted to heroin since 1985, had enough drugs in his system to kill a horse. Then, six months after his death, in an unprecedented change of heart, the Clark County (Nevada) coroner ruled the death a homicide, despite a palpable lack of evidence against Murphy and Tabish. The first trial ended in murder convictions. But because the jury was not given certain instructions before deliberating -- vital information they needed -- the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the convictions and they were given a new trial. The second time around, with famous civil rights attorney (radical but respected) Tony Serra at the helm, along with co-counsel Michael Cristalli, the jury this time found them "not guilty." Justice prevailed, something the Lifetime movie barely touched on. Buffalo News Columnist Alan Pergament had this to say about the movie:
Speaking of embarrassments, the script chooses to use conversations between journalists to present several alternative and inconclusive theories about how Ted Binion died. The scenes are so stiffly played and presented -- it is reminiscent of a bad 'Murder, She Wrote' ending — that it almost is sinful. With all the talent wasted in 'Sin City,' this is one story that should have stayed in Vegas.
I covered both trials gavel to gavel, from the courtroom. The result is a book, Death in the Desert. The other result is a list of stories published in Las Vegas CityLife.

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