Robert Durst. Photo by Courtesy of HBO
Robert Durst. Photo by Courtesy of HBO

It will be at least another week before New York real estate heir Robert Durst is brought to Los Angeles to face a first-degree murder charge for the 2000 shooting of his friend and confidant in her Benedict Canyon home, with a judge in New Orleans Tuesday scheduling another hearing for Monday.

Durst, 71, is also facing weapon and drug charges in New Orleans. Police and prosecutors said Durst had a .38-caliber revolver when he was arrested Saturday the JW Marriott hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter. He also allegedly had 5 ounces of marijuana in his possession.

He is facing New Orleans charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of a weapon with a controlled substance.

On Monday, Durst waived his right to an extradition hearing, agreeing to return to Los Angeles to face the murder charge. His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, insisted that his client did not kill 55-year-old Susan Berman in late December 2000, and he reiterated that stance today.

“Bob Durst didn’t kill Susan Berman and he doesn’t know who did,” he said.

He said the warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder was issued “because of a television show and not because of facts.”

Durst was the subject of a six-part HBO documentary — “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” — examining the disappearance of his wife in the 1980s, Berman’s execution-style killing and the slaying and dismemberment of Durst’s neighbor in Galveston, Texas.

The murder charge against him in Los Angeles includes special circumstance allegations of murder of a witness and lying in wait, making him eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Authorities suspect Durst killed Berman because prosecutors in New York’s Westchester County were about to interview her about the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathleen “Kathie” McCormack Durst, who was in the process of divorcing him.

“Susan Berman was a witness to a crime and was intentionally killed because of that fact,” Los Angeles County prosecutors allege in the criminal complaint.

Berman’s body was found on Christmas Eve of 2000 in her Benedict Canyon home. According to prosecutors, the actual killing occurred on or between Dec. 22-23.

Durst’s arrest came several hours before Sunday night’s airing of the last installment of the six-part HBO documentary. During its filming, Durst gave virtually unfettered access to producers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling, including hours of taped interviews.

The series followed Jarecki as he cultivates a bond with the reclusive Durst and tries to get to the bottom of the rumors about his allegedly violent criminal past. In Sunday’s series-concluding broadcast, Durst was caught on microphone saying to himself, “Killed them all, of course.”

He also was caught saying, “There it is, you’re caught,” and “What a disaster.”

In addition to being a suspect in Kathie McCormack’s disappearance and the death of Berman, Durst also admitted to killing and dismembering Morris Black, a man who lived across from him in Galveston, Texas, where Durst fled while authorities were trying to make a case against him in both cases.

Durst went on trial in Black’s death — after a nationwide manhunt located him in Pennsylvania — but he was acquitted by a jury that deemed Black’s killing was an act of self-defense.

Sunday’s episode of “The Jinx” featured Durst being confronted with handwriting similarities between the envelope of a letter he sent to Berman in 1999 and an anonymous note sent to Beverly Hills police in December 2000 notifying them that they would find a dead body in Berman’s home. Notably, both envelopes included a misspelling of the word “Beverly” as “Beverley.”

In the show, Durst admitted he wrote on the envelope, but denied sending the note to police.

Authorities have not specified exactly what evidence led them to finally seek a warrant for Durst’s arrest in connection with Berman’s killing, or whether the HBO documentary was a key part of the decision. According to the District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors have been working closely with the LAPD for the past two years on the cold case murder.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said today the documentary is not the reason for Durst’s arrest.

“It’s a unique set of circumstances, but our case is independent of the documentary,” he said. “Our case will stand on its own. We are very satisfied with our working with the district attorney and her reason to file this case.”

Authorities suspect Durst killed Berman because prosecutors in New York’s Westchester County were about to interview her about the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathleen “Kathie” McCormack Durst, who was in the process of divorcing him.

“Susan Berman was a witness to a crime and was intentionally killed because of that fact,” Los Angeles County prosecutors allege in the criminal complaint.

Berman’s body was found on Christmas Eve of 2000 in her Benedict Canyon home. According to prosecutors, the actual killing occurred on or between Dec. 22-23.

In addition to being a suspect in Kathie McCormack’s disappearance and the death of Berman, Durst has admitted to killing and dismembering Morris Black, a man who lived across from him in Galveston, Texas, where Durst fled while authorities were trying to make a case against him in both cases.

Durst went on trial in Black’s death in 2003 — after a nationwide manhunt located him in Pennsylvania — but he was acquitted by a jury that deemed Black’s killing was an act of self-defense.

Robert Durst has been long estranged from his real-estate-rich family, which is best known for a series of New York City skyscrapers — including an investment in the World Trade Center. Durst split with the family when his younger brother was placed in charge of the family business, leading to a drawn- out legal battle.

According to various media reports, Robert Durst ultimately reached a settlement under which the family paid him $60 million to $65 millions.

— City News Service

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