As the HBO documentary series about New York real estate heir and confessed killer Robert Durst winding down, a private investigator has asked a Harris County judge to dismiss the eccentric millionaire’s lawsuit against him.
Tim Wilson, a Houston-area investigator, was hired as part of Durst’s defense team in 2001 when Durst, now 71, was charged with the murder of his Galveston neighbor, Morris Black, and with bail-jumping after he left Galveston following his arrest. He was caught in Pennsylvania when he tried to shoplift a chicken sandwich and was returned to Galveston.
As recounted in the HBO series, “Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” Durst has long been considered a suspect in the unsolved 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst, and the 2000 death of a Los Angeles friend, Susan Berman.
According to the New York Times, which cites “four people who have spoken to investigators,” the Los Angeles district attorney has recently reopened an investigation into Berman’s slaying and is linking it to the investigation of Durst’s missing wife. New evidence presented in the fifth episode of the six-part HBO series, which aired Sunday on TV, indicates that Durst knew of Berman’s death the day it happened and knew where her body was, The Times reported.
As to the Galveston murder charge, Durst was acquitted in November 2003 although he admitted cutting up Black’s body and dumping the parts — except the head, which has not been found — into Galveston Bay.
Durst filed suit against Wilson on Jan. 16 in the 127th State District Court, claiming the investigator had told prosecutors in a 2013 Manhattan trespassing case that Durst had told him in 2001 he had “strong hostility” toward his brother and “wished him dead.”
Durst’s suit against Wilson said that as part of Durst’s legal defense team in 2001, Wilson “had a fiduciary duty” to act with loyalty, good faith and in Durst’s best interests.
Wilson’s actions caused Durst to incur “significant defense costs” and “created a great deal of stress, anxiety and embarrassment…,” Durst’s petition stated.
In his motion to dismiss the suit, filed March 6, Wilson questions Durst’s claims:
“How a litigant who, among other things, admits to having killed, butchered and disposed of the body of an elderly neighbor, is reported to have recently urinated on the counter at a local CVS, and is currently starring worldwide in a documentary about his life that presents him as ‘extremely suspicious’ and ‘a hella creepy free man,’ could be embarrassed or stressed because he was arrested for trespassing (which was not within Wilson’s control anyway) Durst does not say,” the dismissal motion states.
Moreover, the motion states, as a private investigator, Wilson was required to report to law enforcement any evidence relating to a crime that was obtained during an investigation, the motion states.
According to Wilson’s motion to dismiss, Durst’s suit is “(i) an attempt to harm Durst’s estranged family and those Durst perceives as being associated with them; and (ii) a publicity stunt.
According to court documents, Wilson met with Durst in 2001 at least three times, twice in Pennsylvania and once in Galveston after he was extradited to Texas to await trial.
At his murder trial, Durst testified that Black died from an accidental gunshot while the two struggled over a pistol. Durst said he cut up the older man’s body because he panicked after the accidental shooting.
In September 2004, Durst pleaded guilty to two counts of bail jumping and one count of evidence tampering.
Wilson is represented by Houston attorneys Geoff Berg and Kathryn E. Nelson of Berg Feldman Johnson Bell, LLP.
Durst is represented in this case by Paul A. Pilibosian and T. Michael Ballases of Hoover Slovacek, LLP.