Millionaire Robert Durst will call on the expertise of a former U.S. Attorney with Louisiana ties in his bid to beat federal weapons charges, court records indicate.
Durst’s lawyers Tuesday said they intend to introduce testimony from Don DeGabrielle, an Louisiana State University law school graduate whose resume also lists experience as an FBI agent and state and federal prosecutor in New Orleans. DeGabrielle served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas in Houston from 2006 to 2008, and now works for the Houston offices of the Chaffe McCall law firm.
DeGabrielle “will opine on federal law enforcement procedures relative to arrest, inventory and search” in future filings by Durst’s team, as they seek to have a judge bar evidence seized in a search of Durst’s room at the J.W. Marriott on Canal Street in March.
Durst, whose role in the deaths of three people was the subject of the HBO documentary “The Jinx,” was arrested in New Orleans on murder charges out of Los Angeles on March 14.
According to a federal criminal complaint, FBI agents — acting on a tip from Los Angeles investigators — tracked Durst to New Orleans, where he had checked into the Marriott under the name “Everette Ward.”
According to the complaint, the agents got Durst’s consent to “inventory” his possessions before booking him into the Orleans Parish Jail on the murder warrant.
Among Durst’s possessions was a loaded .38-caliber revolver. Durst was acquitted of murder charges in the 2001 fatal shooting of his neighbor, Morris Black, but pleaded guilty to counts related to skipping bond and dismembering Black’s body.
Soon after his arrest on the California warrant, Orleans Parish prosecutors filed state gun and drug charges against Durst, who, as convicted felon, was barred by state law from possessing a gun. Federal gun charges were filed a week later, and the state gun charges were dropped last month.
Durst’s lawyers have said the initial search of his room was done without a warrant, and have sought to have evidence taken in the search thrown out. Durst has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
By Andy Grimm (NOLA)