bebb-jonezs-1330729In what reads more like a movie plot than a real-life tale, British poker player Marcus Bebb-Jones pled guilty this week to second-degree murder in a Glenwood Springs, Colorado court in the death of his wife Sabrina 16 years ago in Colorado. Giving no greater motive than that the killing was done in the “heat of passion,” the 49-year-old poker star’s plea deal will get him a maximum of 20 years out of a possible 32 that could potentially have been sentenced for the second-degree charges.

Fought Extradition

First arrested back in 2009 following a raid on his home in Worcestershire in his native country, Bebb-Jones fought extradition for two years before being forced back to the States in 2011 to prepare to face trial. The poker player had denied any involvement until this week, although prosecutors were suspicious when he went on a massive spending spree in Las Vegas after his wife disappeared. He subsequently attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head, but survived and went back to the UK with his then three-year-old son.

Skull Found in Colorado

The 1997 missing wife case had little to go on until a skull that was identified as Sabrina Bebb-Jones was discovered in Douglas Pass, Colorado in 2004.  The couple owned the Melrose Hotel in Grand Junction, not far from the Pass, at the time of the murder.  It then took several years to bring the case to fruition, according to District Attorney Sheri Caloia. “Pleading to first-degree murder would [have been] a life sentence,” Caloia explained about Bebb-Jones admission of guilt on the second-degree charges this week.  He was due to stand trial in April, and will now be sentenced on May 1.

Poker Success After Murder

After Bebb-Jones’ return to the UK and before his being charged and extradited, he enjoyed success playing poker at William Hill online. He qualified for the William Hill Poker Grand Prix II in 2007, and played live and on TV with other well-known British players. Following that stint, he played on the live UK poker circuit, ultimately winning $184,370 for first place in a Pot Limit Hold’em event in 2007 for the Grosvenor Grand Prix.

Motive a Mystery

Unless Bebb-Jones decides to shed light on what caused his murderous act at his May sentencing hearing, the real story behind his motive remains unclear; at first, he had told authorities that his wife vanished following a row.  Sabrina was only 31 at the time, and their toddler son Daniel just three years old.  Now 19, there has been no word so far on the boy’s reaction to his father’s plea deal this week.