Real estate heir says he planned suicide to avoid being recaptured
New York real estate heir Robert Durst was released from jail Thursday — but not as a free man.
Durst, acquitted 11 months ago of intentionally killing his elderly neighbor, was taken into custody by federal marshals for transfer to Pennsylvania to face gun charges.
“He was wondering what was going on,” Galveston County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Carrazalez said. “He seemed concerned. We basically told him the U.S. marshals were here to pick him up.”
Durst’s lawyer was livid.
“Somebody’s doing this for vindictive reasons,” attorney Dick DeGuerin said, calling the action a “malicious prosecution.”
When Durst was arrested in November 2001 near Bethlehem, Pa., police seized his rental car and found two .38-caliber revolvers and 86 rounds of ammunition. Richard Manieri, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia, said he expected an indictment returned on Thursday would be unsealed Friday.
Had expected parole
The 61-year-old Durst, whose family runs The Durst Organization, a privately held billion-dollar New York real estate company, had been expecting to be released this week after Texas prison officials determined he was eligible for parole on charges related to the death and dismemberment of neighbor Morris Black, 71.
Durst testified during his trial that he accidentally shot Black in September 2001 as they struggled for a gun in Durst’s apartment. He contended he panicked, cut up the body and dumped the pieces in Galveston Bay.
Durst was jailed for nearly three years for bond-jumping because he fled after his 2001 arrest — and was arrested six weeks later in Pennsylvania — and for evidence-tampering for disposing of the victim’s body parts.
“We received a writ today ordering us to release him to U.S. marshals,” Carrazalez said Thursday.
He said Durst would be taken to a federal detention center pending an appearance before a magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Durst planned to shoot himself if he were recaptured while on the run from police in Texas, he said in secretly taped jailhouse conversations, obtained by the Houston Chronicle.
“There was no way that I’m going to get arrested and go to prison,” Durst said in January conversations at the Galveston County Jail with Chris Lovell, one of the jurors who acquitted Durst in November of murdering his elderly neighbor.
Sheriff’s deputies secretly recorded Lovell’s Jan. 2 and Jan. 9 visits during an investigation into possible jury tampering in Durst’s murder trial. Deputies found no evidence of such a crime.
The Chronicle obtained the contents of the Galveston jailhouse conversations for a story in Thursday’s editions.
On the tapes, Durst said he intentionally committed traffic violations while carrying a loaded gun on his car seat during two months as a fugitive in 2001. He also said he carried a pistol while shoplifting so he could shoot himself in public if he were pulled over by police or caught stealing.
He was arrested while shoplifting a sandwich in a Pennsylvania supermarket in 2001. “Somehow or other that day, I was in a hurry and forgot to take the gun,” Durst said