Marcus Bebb-Jones, 49, denied killing his wife Sabrina in 1997 before dumping her body in a Colorado national park. However, he changed his plea to guilty earlier this year in a deal with state prosecutors.
On Wednesday he was sentenced to 20 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, four years after his arrest at his home in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, in 2009.
He admitted second-degree murder, telling police he killed his wife in a “heat of passion”. Court documents show that she was murdered during a hiking trip as the pair took a rare day off from managing a hotel they owned in the Colorado resort town of Grand Junction.
Claiming that she had run off after a fight, he drove to Las Vegas where her family lived but instead of contacting them he hired prostitutes and indulged in high-stakes gambling, partially funded on her credit cards.
Detectives said nearly $5,700 had been charged to credit cards and a further $7,000 was refused. The spree is said to have included cash advances at casinos, hotel rooms and car rental.
Four days after he arrived in Las Vegas, Bebb-Jones’ toddler son was found alone in a hotel room and taken into state care. The next day a maid found Bebb-Jones in another hotel room, with a “self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head”, according to court documents.
Having refused to speak to US police, Bebb-Jones moved back to the UK with his son in 1998, after selling the hotel.
That’s when he reinvented himself as one of the country’s top poker pros. He became a well known face on the circuit and won £90,000 in the Grosvenor Grand Prix in 2007.
That life came to a sudden end after his arrest and subsequent extradition to the US in 2011 to face charges of first degree murder, concealing death and domestic violence.
In February, Bebb-Jones made a plea bargain, admitting murder in the second degree in exchange for a sentence of no more than 20 years. He was jailed at Garfield County Court and his sentence will be reduced to reflect the time he has already served awaiting the trial.