Thu, May 2, 10:14pm by Kevin Pitstock
Marcus Bebb-Jones, a 49-year old British professional poker player who played on the circuit for 20 years, was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in a US prison. Officials in the United States sent out a warrant for Bebb-Jones’s arrest over 10 years after the murder. British officials raided the gambler’s home in 2009 to arrest the man. In 2011, he was extradited to the USA, where he pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder in exchange for a sentence of no more than 20 years.
Marcus Bebb-Jones’s poker career involved wins at the Grosvenor Grand Prix and the Broadway Casino Poker Festival in Birmingham in 2007. He also won a no limit hold’em event on the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour in 2008 and a Dusk Till Dawn Anniversary Cup tournaments in Nottingham later that same year. He placed in the money 10 other times during his career from 2007 to 2009. The notoriety might have cost Mr Bebb-Jones his freedom, for it was that same year when the raid by UK authorities brought him to justice.
Bebb-Jones and his then-31 year old wife, Vietnamese-born Sabrina, owned a Nevada hotel together back in 1997. In what he described as an age of rage during one of their frequent fights, the man murdered his wife. A hotel employee reported Sabrina missing in September 1997.
Around the same time, he left with his toddler son for Las Vegas, ostensibly to search for his wife in the city where her parents lived. Credit card records show he spent thousands of dollars on cash advances at a hotel, car rental service, and suspiciously, a casino. Hotel employees eventually found his son alone in the hotel room, so the child was taken into state custody.
The gambler continued to maintain his innocence, even after a failed attempt at suicide. Despite being the primary suspect, no evidence of Sabrina’s death surfaced for 7 years. In 2004, a rancher found a human skull. DNA testing showed the skull to be Sabrina’s. Tellingly, the skull had residue of purple thistle flowers, which also was found on the underside of her husband’s truck in the initial investigation. This link tied Marcus to his wife’s murder.
In 1998, Marcus Bebb-Jones had sold his hotel and left the country for the United Kingdom. Still, no arrest warrant was filled out in 2004. Only in 2009 was a warrant issued for his arrest, some 12 years after the murder and 2 years after he began to make news as a professional poker player. With his 12 tournament wins in a 3-year period, albeit in lesser known events, Marcus Bebb-Jones appeared poised to have a brilliant career in gambling. Instead, the British authorities arrested him and extradited him to the United States, after the appeals process ended in 2011.
The former professional gambler decided to take a plea bargain, by which he agreed to serve a sentence of no more than 20 years for the murder of his wife. From his conviction on May 1, 2013, he’ll serve less than twenty year sentence, because he’ll get credit for “time served”.
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