A juror who found Robert Durst not guilty of murder has visited the millionaire real estate heir in jail five times since Durst’s trial ended in November.
On his most recent trip, juror Chris Lovell brought his wife, according to records at the Galveston County Jail. No other jurors have visited Durst, Galveston County Sheriff’s Capt. Joe Gregory said Tuesday.
Last week, Lovell, 47, a League City electrician, told the Chronicle that he visited Durst, 60, to ask him some questions and make sure that Lovell made the right decision in finding Durst not guilty of murdering 71-year-old Morris Black. The visit with Durst, he said, convinced him that Durst is innocent.
Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin, one of Durst’s defense attorneys, said Lovell had contacted him to make sure that it was all right to visit Durst. DeGuerin said he contacted Durst and he agreed to the initial visit.
DeGuerin said it was somewhat unusual that a juror would want to meet with Durst.
“But they (jurors) are free to do whatever they want to do. I understand his reasons for wanting to satisfy himself,” DeGuerin said.
Lovell’s curiosity about Durst also extended to author Matt Birkbeck, who wrote a book about the disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathie. Birkbeck said he received a letter from Lovell in late November or early December and that Lovell had read his book, A Deadly Secret: The Strange Disappearance of Kathie Durst.
He said Lovell described himself as “Juror No. 1.”
Birkbeck said he called Lovell and spoke to him for about an hour about Durst and the trial. He said he also called him last week when he learned that Lovell had recommended a real estate agent to Durst.
“He’s either extending that 15 minutes or there’s something really interesting going on, particularly where it involves Durst, and whether this juror is wittingly or unwittingly helping him out,” Birkbeck said.
After deliberating for about 26 hours, a Galveston County jury on Nov. 11 found Durst not guilty of killing his neighbor. Durst claimed that on Sept. 28, 2001, Black pulled a pistol on him in his apartment, the two struggled for the gun and Black died from a bullet wound to the head when the weapon fired accidentally. Prosecutors maintained that Durst murdered Black to try to assume his identity.
Durst admitted to cutting up Black’s body and placing the limbs in garbage bags before dumping them in Galveston Bay. Black’s head was never recovered.
Durst remains in the Galveston County Jail for jumping bond. After being arrested in connection with Black’s death, he fled the county and was rearrested 50 days later in Pennsylvania for stealing a deli sandwich, Band-Aids and a newspaper from a grocery store.
He faces two counts of bail jumping and is being held in lieu of a $2 billion bond.
Galveston County Jail logs show that Lovell first visited Durst on Dec. 5 — three weeks after the not guilty verdict. Records show that Lovell also visited Durst the day after Christmas, and on Jan. 2 and Jan. 9.
On Jan. 16, both Lovell and his wife saw Durst at the jail.
Each visit is limited to 20 to 25 minutes, Gregory said.
DeGuerin said he was not surprised that Lovell has been to see Durst five times. The visits, he said, have been without an attorney present.
DeGuerin labeled the visits “unusual in the sense that it doesn’t happen very often. I don’t want words put in my mouth that it’s unusual in this case because everything is unusual in this case. I wasn’t adverse to it. I wasn’t in opposition at all. I just wanted to make sure Bob was comfortable with it, and he was. That’s what happened.”
DeGuerin said the visits have proved to Lovell that Durst is innocent of the crime.
“He even told me that, `I wouldn’t mind if he moved next door to me,’ ” DeGuerin said of Lovell.
Lovell recommended a real estate agent to Durst so he could purchase a home in a gated community in League City.
Lovell said he has no ulterior motives in visiting Durst. His most recent visits with Durst, he said, have been idle “chitchat.”