(April 29) -- Eyewitness News has exclusive new information about a new suspect in the Ted Binion murder case. The defense says this new information could clear their clients of murder charges.
Defense attorneys for suspect Sandy Murphy say that federal agents are withholding shocking information about a murder for hire plot allegedly involving members of Ted Binion's own family.
Apparently, there is a new witness in this drama, whose testimony could blow the roof off this already sensational case. Six months ago when the Eyewitness News I-Team visited Sandy Murphy in prison, she hinted in confidence that something big was in the works for the defense.
Now that her conviction has been reversed and she's been released, she is ready to unveil the surprise. Motions filed late Thursday afternoon in federal court demand that the FBI, Department of Justice, and Attorney General reveal all they know about Binion's death in 1997, a death that sent Murphy and co-defendant Rick Tabish to prison.
According to the motions, federal agents acquired but kept secret shocking information about the Binion saga. Specifically, the FBI was told about a murder-for-hire plot, a plan to kill Ted Binion by someone other than Murphy and Tabish.
At the center of the new scenario is a man named Avery Church, serving a long prison term in Nevada for kidnapping, attempted murder, use of a deadly weapon and many other crimes.
According to the defense motions, FBI agents came to see Church last Sept. They removed him from his prison cell and kept him in isolation in California for six weeks, where he was questioned at length about a host of criminal activity, including drug trafficking , organized crime and the Binion case.
Informed sources say Church told the FBI that he and two other men were hired to kill Ted Binion and that the plot was conceived by Nick Behnen, the husband of Ted Binion's sister Becky.
Included in the motions is a letter, written in Jan. of this year by assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Young of Los Angeles. In the letter, Young tells defense attorneys that the government has uncovered quote potentially exculpatory information for Murphy and Tabish , meaning evidence that could clear them, and the letter notes that Avery Church claims to have personal knowledge that Murphy and Tabish didn't kill Binion.
Ominously, Church claims to have secret tape recordings of others involved in the alleged plot. The motion by Murphy's lawyer Michael Christalli demands that the Justice Department must release everything it has on Binion's death, even though the defense still maintains that Ted Binion died of an accidental drug overdose.
There have been previous reports about alleged murder contracts taken out by Ted or his sister Becky on each other but none were ever proven. There was a drive by shooting incident at Ted's home in 1997. Involving two other men, the same men whom Avery Church says were hired to kill Binion. On the day of Ted Binion's funeral, Sandy Murphy turned over tape recordings from her answering machine to gaming control agents.
Transcripts reveal numerous calls from Nick Behnen to Ted Binion, in which Behnen appears to try and get one of the would be hit men to tell Binion that there was no plot to kill and rob Binion.
Late Thursday, the I-team obtained audiotapes of phone calls made by Nick Behnen to Ted Binion. The language is course and the content unsettling. The tapes have been in the hands of law enforcement for years but have never been aired publicly.
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