Robert Durst, son of real estate mogul Seymour Durst and focus of HBO’s documentary The Jinx, has entered a not guilty plea to recent gun and drug charges in New Orleans Louisiana. At the time of the arrest about a month ago, the police also found a bag of marijuana in his possession. He is being held in a Louisiana prison without bail.
Durst who appeared in a Louisiana courtroom Thursday to enter a not guilty plea on his weapon and drug charges, appeared to be feeble, and confused. A few times he complained of not being able to hear the judge, and had to ask his prosecution team had to repeat things for him. A letter that he had written and sent to the LA Times while being incarcerated in New Orleans, discussed a medical condition he has known as Hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a condition where fluid builds in the brain, and causes pressure. Symptoms include balance issues, memory loss, and signs similar to dementia.
LA County prosecutors have been trying to extradite Durst back to California to face charges for the murder of his friend Susan Berman in 2000. The murder came just before Berman was to appear in court as a witness to discuss the disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathleen. In the meantime, Kathleen’s body has never been found.
In the HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, there appears to be a confession on a live microphone from Durst while in a bathroom. In the footage you can hear where he admits to killing Berman, his ex-wife, as well as a man in Galveston TX. Another piece of evidence that has been unearthed by the documentary film team, is a letter that was handwritten by Durst from about the same time period. It has been noted that in both letters the handwriting styles are very similar, and that Beverly Hills was also misspelled the same way. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office is expected to use both of these pieces of evidence to help strengthen their case.
In light of these new charges in Louisiana, Los Angeles prosecutors may have a new strategy. They may slow things down a bit in regards to the murder charge, and allow for the case to play out in Louisiana. Because Durst is a felon, his gun and drug possession charges comes with a stiff sentence. If convicted, he could receive a combined sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Not to mention that a felon carrying a weapon and a bag of marijuana last month, would be much easier to prove than a murder that occurred 15 years ago.
Durst’s lawyer Rick DeGuerin, is asking for the gun to be thrown out as evidence. His reasoning, is that police did not have a warrant to search the hotel room where the weapon was found. DeGuerin would also like to have his client back in LA, to face the original murder charge he is facing. On top of the state weapon and drug charges he is facing in Louisiana, there are also federal gun charges being tagged on. An overwhelmed DeGuerin is dismayed and feels that they are being ‘tag-teamed’ by both the federal government, and the state. Durst will sit and wait in New Orleans after making his not guilty plea until his court date. In this time both Los Angeles, and New Orleans prosecutors work together on figuring out how they would like to proceed.
By Alec Rosenberg
Photo by Brian Turner – Flickr License