Efforts to bring New York real estate scion Robert Durst to Los Angeles to face a murder charge were further stymied Wednesday when he was indicted in New Orleans on weapons charges.
Durst, 71, is charged with the execution-style shooting death of his close friend, Susan Berman, 55, whose 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.
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.
Durst — who was profiled in the HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” was arrested March 14 in a New Orleans hotel room. Although Durst waived his right to an extradition hearing and his attorney said he was anxious to return to Los Angeles, Durst was booked in New Orleans on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of a weapon with a controlled substance — marijuana.
According to a search warrant affidavit, investigators found a .38- caliber revolver and marijuana in his hotel room.
He was indicted Wednesday on counts of possession of a firearm by felon and possession of both a firearm and an illegal drug — 5 ounces of marijuana. He could face 10 to 20 years if convicted of the charges.
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 million.
Durst’s arrest came hours before the airing of the final episode of “The Jinx,” which examined the disappearance of his wife in 1982, Berman’s execution-style killing and the killing of Black.
On the documentary series finale, which aired the day after his arrest, 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.”
Durst could face the death penalty if he is found guilty of the Berman slaying. According to court papers, Los Angeles police detectives claim two handwriting experts have linked Durst to an anonymous letter alerting authorities to a “cadaver” at Berman’s home.
— City News Service
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