Robert Durst Indicted on Gun Charges in New Orleans

Robert A. Durst was formally indicted on gun charges in New Orleans on Wednesday, further delaying his extradition to Los Angeles, where he faces murder charges.

Mr. Durst, the enigmatic multimillionaire from a prominent New York real estate family, who was featured in an HBO documentary, has been in jail in Louisiana since March 14, when he was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a hotel room in New Orleans. The police found him there with a .38-caliber revolver, marijuana and a fake identification card.

The next day, during the broadcast of the final episode of the documentary, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” Mr. Durst was recorded making what seemed to be a confession to several murders.

The indictment on Wednesday charged Mr. Durst, 71, with possession of a handgun by a felon and possession of a weapon while in the possession of an illegal substance. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Mr. Durst’s lawyers challenged his arrest in New Orleans as illegal and sought his extradition to Los Angeles.

“We’ll reiterate our desire to try the murder case,” said Chip Lewis, one of a half-dozen lawyers representing Mr. Durst, whose net worth is estimated at more than $110 million. “We’ve got the tail wagging the dog. The arrest in New Orleans is nothing but a product of the Los Angeles arrest warrant.”

The delays, Mr. Lewis said, were part of a collaborative effort by the authorities to allow Los Angeles prosecutors to continue to prepare their case while depriving the defense of its right to discovery, which would give Mr. Durst’s lawyers access to evidence that prosecutors in California have developed.

On March 11, the authorities in Los Angeles obtained an arrest warrant for Mr. Durst in the killing a close confidante, Susan Berman, in her home 15 years ago.

Investigators in Los Angeles and the F.B.I. had been tracking Mr. Durst’s movements, and when he drove from his home in Houston to New Orleans, where he booked a room at the JW Marriott hotel on Canal Street using an alias, they feared that he was planning to flee the country.

Mr. Durst’s lawyers have contested the legality of the search of his hotel room and moved to quash his subsequent arrest. At a preliminary hearing this month, their attempt to cross-examine the federal agents was stymied by the agents’ failure to appear in court.

The magistrate hearing the case had set a contempt hearing for Thursday. The district attorney’s decision to indict Mr. Durst now eliminates the need for that hearing.



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