High Profile Attorney Withdraws From Binion Case

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

High-profile defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin has withdrawn from a case involving the murder of a former Las Vegas casino executive, four months after scoring a huge victory in getting his client free on bail.

DeGuerin, who most recently won an acquittal for New York real estate heir Robert Durst, said Saturday that he will no longer be representing Sandy Murphy because of people trying to exert control over his defense strategy.

"I have to be free to exercise my own professional judgment and to have my judgment, my decision, my strategy implemented without being criticized or overruled by other people," DeGuerin told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

DeGuerin said he notified District Judge Joseph Bonaventure of his decision on Friday.

Murphy, along with former lover Rick Tabish, has been charged with killing Ted Binion. Murphy, a former topless dancer, was Binion's live-in girlfriend at the time of the 1998 murder.

The pair were found guilty in 2000. But convictions were overturned last year by the Nevada Supreme Court, and prosecutors refiled the case. The pair's second trial is scheduled for October.

Soon after DeGuerin took over the case, the Houston-based lawyer argued successfully that Murphy should be released on bail while awaiting the second trial. Prosecutors had argued vigorously against her release, but the judge decided on $250,000 bail.

On Saturday, DeGuerin emphasized his decision to withdraw from the case had nothing to do with Murphy, whom he maintains is innocent.

"It's not her fault," DeGuerin said. "I have no problems with her. I wish her every bit of success and luck that she can muster. Unfortunately, there are nonlawyers that are calling the shots."

DeGuerin declined to identify the "nonlawyers."

Before winning the Durst acquittal, DeGuerin was the lead lawyer for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 1994, successfully defending the Texas Republican who was charged with abusing her former office as state treasurer. DeGuerin also represented David Koresh during the Waco standoff.

Las Vegas lawyer Michael Cristalli, whom DeGuerin had been working with, will likely take over the case until another lead lawyer is found, DeGuerin said.

Prosecutors say Murphy and Tabish drugged and suffocated Binion for his money. Tabish later was found digging up a fortune in silver that Binion had buried in the desert.

Lawyers for the pair have said Binion died of a heroin overdose.


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