HBO’s ‘The Jinx’ played key role in ‘urgent’ timing of Robert Durst’s arrest, prosecutors say

After coming to suspect Robert Durst in the execution-style slaying of writer Susan Berman, the Los Angeles Police Department was forced to make a swift arrest of the real estate scion because of an HBO miniseries, prosecutors said in court filings on Monday.

Durst was nabbed one day before the final episode of the six-part HBO documentary, “The Jinx,” revealed the eccentric millionaire muttering to himself: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” Many interpreted it as a confession to killing his long-vanished wife, a Texas neighbor and Berman, his confidant.

In a court filing, Los Angeles County prosecutors spelled out how the finale of “The Jinx” warranted action. Durst had wealth and a history of fleeing law enforcement, which “made the need to arrest him in New Orleans all the more urgent,” according to court papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

“The Jinx’s final episode…was about to become public and [Durst] was about to hear for the first time this extremely damning evidence,” prosecutors wrote of the recording. “Preventing defendant’s flight, holding him accountable for his past actions, and protecting society from the danger he posed, were of the utmost importance.”

The court filing does not say how prosecutors or investigators knew the contents of the final episode before it was aired. “The Jinx” director Andrew Jarecki has previously said his team was “in contact” with police for two years before Durst’s arrest on March 14, 2015.

The justification for apprehending Durst was one of several arguments prosecutors made in response to allegations levied by defense attorneys in court papers filed last week. Durst’s lawyers contend that the heir to a Manhattan real estate fortune was improperly arrested, that his hotel room was unlawfully searched, and that L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lewin conducted an inappropriate jailhouse interview of their client, according to court papers.

They said Durst, now 73, was “frail, afraid and quite disoriented” at the time of the questioning, according to the court papers.

Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin also told The Times he disliked how prosecutors released on Friday the full transcript of the questioning.

“I don’t think it was proper for the prosecution to publicly file evidence, meaning the transcript from Bob’s illegal interrogation, before the judge rules on whether it should be made public,” DeGuerin said in an e-mail.

Prosecutors rejected each of those assertions in Monday’s court filing, noting that a federal judge in Louisiana previously ruled that the search and arrest were lawful. Prosecutors also say the jailhouse interview was proper because Durst had not been formally charged with murder at the time and that he “voluntarily” waived his rights to having an attorney present.

Durst “was lucid, had no trouble processing information, and in no way appeared disoriented,” prosecutors wrote.

The wrangling over Durst’s arrest and subsequent interview is one of many disputes in the case. Durst is charged with murder in the December 2000 execution-style slaying of Berman, his confidant. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment last month and remains in custody in L.A. County jail.

A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles, where attorneys are expected to spar over whether an independent monitor should be appointed to sift through some of Durst’s property seized last year and separate materials restricted by attorney-client privilege.

Investigators want to examine roughly 60 boxes of personal papers that were stored in the Hudson Valley basement of Durst’s friend Susan Giordano. Some of those papers contain information about litigation involving Durst.

Prosecutors contend that he allowed the film crew of “The Jinx” to riffle through the material to find a deposition of Douglas Durst, his estranged brother, and scan various documents, thus waiving any claim to attorney-client privilege.

Defense lawyers say “The Jinx” filmmakers were authorized only to locate a DVD showing Durst’s brother in a deposition, not to read the entire contents of the papers.

Other disputed evidence that prosecutors want examined by an independent monitor comes from Durst’s New Orleans hotel room and his Houston home.

 

 

(Los Angeles Times)

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“Jinx” creator Jarecki: Durst family could have helped prevent two murders

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Andrew Jarecki, the co-creator of the HBO docu-series “The Jinx” on accused murderer Robert Durst, said that by refusing to cooperate with authorities and share crucial information about Kathleen McCormack’s disappearance, Douglas Durst and his late father Seymour Durst share some responsibility in failing to prevent the deaths of two other individuals.

“One could argue that had they done anything at the time to get any kind of version of the truth, then Bob might have gotten psychiatric help, might have been incarcerated or whatever, but two other people, Susan Berman and Morris Black, would not be murdered,” Jarecki said during an interview at the New Yorker Festival in Chelsea Friday night. “This is a big issue. And that is I think one of the reasons why the Dursts are constantly threatening to sue me.”

Asked for a comment on Jarecki’s remarks, Durst spokesperson Jordan Barowitz told The Real Deal by email: “Mr. Jarecki can say anything he wants, but this is hogwash.”

Jarecki was referring to an episode chronicled in his Emmy-winning documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which aired this spring.

In 1982, Seymour, patriarch of the Durst Organization, hired a crack private investigator to look into the disappearance of McCormack, Robert’s wife at the time. The investigator, Edward Wright, reported numerous inconsistencies in Robert’s account of the night of her disappearance. But instead of sharing the findings, Jarecki claims, the Dursts kept the report private. Robert was never charged.

In 2001 he killed his Texas neighbor Morris Black, but was acquitted after successfully claiming self-defense . “The Jinx” also unearthed damning evidence that Robert murdered his friend Susan Berman in Los Angeles in 2000. Following the airing of the series, Robert was arrested in Houston and is now facing murder charges in her death.

“I don’t think they imagined we would have a copy of this privileged document that was just their private information, but what it does tell us is that surely Seymour Durst and maybe others knew at the time of Kathie’s disappearance in 1982 that it was pretty clear Bob had killed her,” he said Friday.

“You could say, well, ‘would you really turn in your brother, or your son or your whatever,’ but I think it’s so clear that what they did was to close ranks.”

Jarecki has long had a contentious relationship with Douglas and the Durst Organization. The company refused to cooperate for the documentary and, according to Jarecki, threatened to sue over his 2010 movie “All Good Things,” a fictionalized account of Robert’s life.

Jarecki said the threat of a lawsuit made Robert, who also has a tense relationship with Douglas, eager to cooperate with the filmmakers. “I realized there was this brother-to-brother relationship that was going to be a very big thing and it was going to be a big motivator for Bob,” he said. “And I think that was really the thing that made him call me, and the lawsuit was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

(Real Deal)

‘The Jinx’ Director Reads Email From Robert Durst, Talks Followup To HBO Series

HBO’s controversial The Jinx: The Life And Deaths of Robert Durst just won a big show of support from the TV Academy, nabbing the Emmy for best documentary or nonfiction series tonight. It beat out PBS’ three much less radioactive American Masters, Cancer: The Emperor Of All Maladies and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, as well as CNN’s The Sixties.

Accepting the award, Jinx director Andrew Jarecki read an email sent by Durst in which he said, ‘I’m going to watch Episode 6 and then decide if I’m going to Cuba.’ “He didn’t go because he was arrested and that’s testament to the power of television,” Jarecki said. He gave thanks to his wife for overcoming her better judgment to allow him to “intentionally antagonize a triple homicide suspect.”

The Jinx gained widespread exposure when subject Robert Durst was arrested on first-degree murder charges the day before the finale aired  on the docu, in which the son of a New York real estate mogul and suspect in three notorious murder cases over three decades, appeared to confess, while wearing a microphone, to them all.

Jinx director Andrew Jarecki, asked backstage if he thought the project would lead to Durst’s arrest said, “Only thing we did feel… when Durst reached out to us was he had something to say.” “We had the sense he wanted to tell the truth and it was going to take a lot of work to figure out what that was.”

While receiving acclaim – “HBO caught a murderer. Top that Netflix!” crowed HBO’s Bill Maher – some critics accused the documentary of blurring the line of journalism, with the New Yorker reporting that “[t]he filmmakers, having been quizzed on the time line of events as represented, have cancelled forthcoming interviews. Several media outlets questioned how long the filmmakers had sat on evidence damaging to Durst before turning it over to law enforcement.” Durst’s defense attorney jumped on the questions about the timing, specifically when second interview took place and how long it actually took producers to unearth the audio of Durst’s bathroom  break in which, still miked, he was heard muttering to himself, “What did I do? Killed ’em all, of course.”

Jarecki said he has not heard from Durst since his arrest but “he’s been in prison in New Orleans and it would be difficult for him to reach out.” That said, Jarecki added, “I don’t think it’s impossible we’ll end up talking again.”

(Deadline)

‘The Jinx’ Director Reads Email From Robert Durst, Talks Followup To HBO Series – Creative Arts Emmys

HBO’s controversial The Jinx: The Life And Deaths of Robert Durst just won a big show of support from the TV Academy, nabbing the Emmy for best documentary or nonfiction series tonight. It beat out PBS’ three much less radioactive American Masters, Cancer: The Emperor Of All Maladies and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, as well as CNN’s The Sixties.

Accepting the award, Jinx director Andrew Jarecki read an email sent by Durst in which he said, ‘I’m going to watch Episode 6 and then decide if I’m going to Cuba.’ “He didn’t go because he was arrested and that’s testament to the power of television,” Jarecki said. He gave thanks to his wife for overcoming her better judgment to allow him to “intentionally antagonize a triple homicide suspect.”

The Jinx gained widespread exposure when subject Robert Durst was arrested on first-degree murder charges the day before the finale aired  on the docu, in which the son of a New York real estate mogul and suspect in three notorious murder cases over three decades, appeared to confess, while wearing a microphone, to them all.

Jinx director Andrew Jarecki, asked backstage if he thought the project would lead to Durst’s arrest said, “Only thing we did feel… when Durst reached out to us was he had something to say.” “We had the sense he wanted to tell the truth and it was going to take a lot of work to figure out what that was.”

While receiving acclaim – “HBO caught a murderer. Top that Netflix!” crowed HBO’s Bill Maher – some critics accused the documentary of blurring the line of journalism, with the New Yorker reporting that “[t]he filmmakers, having been quizzed on the time line of events as represented, have cancelled forthcoming interviews. Several media outlets questioned how long the filmmakers had sat on evidence damaging to Durst before turning it over to law enforcement.” Durst’s defense attorney jumped on the questions about the timing, specifically when second interview took place and how long it actually took producers to unearth the audio of Durst’s bathroom  break in which, still miked, he was heard muttering to himself, “What did I do? Killed ’em all, of course.”

Jarecki said he has not heard from Durst since his arrest but “he’s been in prison in New Orleans and it would be difficult for him to reach out.” That said, Jarecki added, “I don’t think it’s impossible we’ll end up talking again.”

(Deadline)

‘He Killed Them All’: Prosecutor Jeanine Pirro writing Robert Durst book

Jeanine Pirro, the former New York prosecutor who investigated the disappearance of Robert Durst’s wife, Kathleen, will publish a book making her case against the notorious real estate developer, the Associated Press reports.

Gallery Books will release “He Killed Them All: Robert Durst and My Quest for Justice” on Nov. 3. “[I]n this shocking book, she makes her case beyond a shadow of a doubt, revealing stunning, previously unknown secrets about the crimes he is accused of committing,” the publisher says. “Featuring Pirro’s unique insider’s perspective on the crimes, as well as her exclusive interviews with many of the major players featured in ‘The Jinx,’ this comprehensive book is the definitive story of Robert Durst and his gruesome crimes — the one you didn’t see on television.”

Durst, 72, was arrested in New Orleans in March in connection with the 2000 shooting death of his friend Susan Berman, an author, in Benedict Canyon. Earlier in 2000, Pirro, then the district attorney of Westchester County, N.Y., reopened the investigation into the disappearance of Kathleen Durst, who went missing in 1982. Pirro had planned to question Berman in California about Kathleen Durst’s disappearance, then Berman was killed.

In a March interview with Bloomberg Politics, Pirro said she believes that Robert Durst killed Berman. “He knew we were coming out there, and he had to shut her up,” she said.

Pirro, who is now a Fox News host, was featured in the HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” The title of her book comes from a statement Durst made in the final episode, while he was talking to himself in a bathroom on a live microphone: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Pirro’s book won’t be the only one about the Durst case. San Diego author Cathy Scott writes about the Berman murder in a book published Tuesday, “Murder of a Mafia Daughter: The Life and Tragic Death of Susan Berman.” Publisher Barricade Books says the book “dissects the botched investigation of Berman’s murder and explains the reasons Durst is now the prime suspect.”

“He Killed Them All” will be Pirro’s second nonfiction book; she previously wrote “To Punish and Protect: Against a System That Coddles Criminals.” She is also the author of two mystery novels, “Sly Fox” and “Clever Fox.”

(LA Times)

Cops: Our Contact With “Jinx” Filmmaker Is Part of Murder Investigation

Ever since HBO’s very good investigative pornography show “The Jinx” exploded this past spring, viewers and critics have wondered how much creator Andrew Jarecki’s own digginginfluenced the active murder investigations in Los Angeles and Westchester, N.Y., into his subject, the sociopathic millionaire Robert Durst. A freedom of information request filed by Gawker suggests the two are intertwined.

After Durst’s arrest, perfectly timed to the chilling finale of The Jinx, the LAPD—which had long been investigating Durst’s role in the 2000 murder of Susan Berman— denied that the two events were anything more than a coincidence (and blessing for HBO’s marketing department):

“We based our actions based on the investigation and the evidence,” LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese Albanese told the Los Angeles Times. “We didn’t base anything we did on the HBO series. The arrest was made as a result of the investigative efforts and at a time that we believe it was needed…We’re constantly looking at cold cases—this being one of them.”

The timing certainly raised questions about whether Jarecki was journalistically investigating Durst’s possible role as a serial killer, or actively collaborating with the LAPD to catch him. We filed an inquiry under California’s Public Record Act to find out, requesting all correspondence between Jarecki and the LAPD. The department’s response suggests that it views its contacts with Jarecki not as a conversation between the LAPD and a journalist, but as part of an active murder investigation:

Staff from conducted a search and has located records responsive to your request. Staff from RHD has indicated that these records were produced in the course of an on-going criminal investigation. In accordance with Section 6254(f), records of investigations conducted by, or investigatory files compiled by, any local police agency for law enforcement purposes, are exempt from disclosure. Section 6254(f) further exempts the disclosure of information that would potentially endanger the safety of a person involved in an on-going investigation or would endanger the successful completion of the investigation. Your request seeks documents that are either investigatory records or properly part of an investigative file and are part of an on-going investigation; therefore, I am denying your request.

I’ve reached out to Jarecki for comment and will update if I receive a reply.

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By Sam Biddle (Gawker)

Is The Jinx returning to chronicle Robert Durst’s arrest in season 2?

The addictive docu-series The Jinx could be returning for a second season.

HBO’s six-part series chronicled New York real estate heir Robert Durst‘s connection to three mysterious deaths over a 20-year period.The series, directed by Andrew Jarecki, documented the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathie, the 2000 killing of his long-time friend Susan Berman and the 2001 death of his neighbor Morris Black in Texas, for which Durst was tried and acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.

Public interest in the series reached a peak just as Durst was picked up in New Orleans at the behest of Los Angeles police investigating Berman’s unsolved death.

Durst has since been formally charged with the murder of author Susan Berman and also faces a federal weapons charge in New Orleans.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO is currently planning to make more episodes of The Jinx, potentially to follow Durst’s story behind bars.

The Jinx‘s final episode famously included what many have interpreted to be a confession from Durst, who was caught on an open microphone muttering in a bathroom: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Durst has long maintained his innocence in both the disappearance of his first wife and Berman’s murder.

(Digital Spy)

 

 

 

Family of pot-loving Robert Durst eyes medical-marijuana bid

The Durst family real-estate empire — which weeded out pot-loving killer Robert Durst from its ranks — is teaming up with a major hospital trade association in a bid to legally grow and dispense medical marijuana.

Durst, 72, has been locked in a New Orleans jail since his March 14 arrest, when FBI agents found a revolver and marijuana in his hotel room, his latest in a string of pot-fueled follies.

Durst also is facing extradition to California to face charges that he killed his longtime friend Susan Berman after she’d been contacted by the Westchester County DA, who was investigating the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife, Kathleen.

Durst had testified that he kept five pounds of high-grade marijuana in the freezer of his home in Galveston, Texas, where his self-defense stance helped him beat a murder rap in the shooting death of a neighbor.

Now the empire — headed by estranged brother Douglas Durst — that ousted the one-time murder suspect wants a piece of the pot action.

It is joining with the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents nearly 250 hospitals and health-care facilities in the state, for the high purpose of growing and selling weed to medically qualified customers.

The newly formed partnership would have the hospital group’s for-profit subsidiary handling the medical details as Douglas Durst deals with the logistics of manufacturing, production and distribution.

“We know what our expertise is,” said GNYHA Ventures president Lee Perlman. “We needed to find a partner that had the infrastructure and the capital to make this very special.”

It helped that the Durst Organization was familiar with growing things other than tall buildings.

The real-estate company also owns and operates McEnroe Organic Farm in Dutchess County, although a company spokesman, Jordan Barowitz, said marijuana would not be grown there if the company wins the bid.

“It was that agricultural experience that was the impetus of our interest in the application,” Barowitz said.

Also bidding is the North Shore LIJ medical system.

Industry watchers said the two hospital bids are signs that the medical-marijuana field is gaining respectability.

Winning bids are expected to be announced next month.

By Leonard Greene (NY Post)

This Is What The Jinx Creators Think of Robert Durst

Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling have been lying low since March, when Robert Durst, thesubject of their startling six-part HBO documentary, was arrested in New Orleans on the eve of the show’s finale and accused of being a serial killer — thanks in no small part to the revelations uncovered in The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.

Citing their potential role as witnesses in Durst’s trial in Los Angeles for the 2000 murder of mob heiress Susan Berman — for which no court date has been set and Durst is being held without bond in Louisiana, where he first faces a federal weapons charge for a revolver found at the time of his arrest — the documentarians have remained quiet until now.

“To try the case in the media, or for us to provide some pseudo-expert opinions about how the legal process is going to go, is only going to confuse people and go beyond our sphere of expertise,” explains Jarecki, recently breaking that silence in an interview with THR.

Jarecki, 52, who wrote, directed and produced the series, and Smerling, 52, who wrote, produced and served as cinematographer, talked about the controversy that has swirled around their project, the strange, chilling charisma of The Jinx‘s central character and when they first believed he was guilty of murder.

I’ve imagined you both in witness protection since the finale.

MARC SMERLING It’s sort of been like that. (Laughs.)

The Jinx initially was intended as a documentary feature. How did it become an HBO series?

SMERLING We were suffering trying to make a two-hour movie. Every time we cut it down, we lost some of the delicious pieces — the moments with Bob that raised it above just a murder story. At the same time, we were watching Homeland, House of Cards and these series stretching one crime over entire seasons. That’s what we needed: the ability to live in a structured piece of storytelling of these three murders but with time to focus on other things. We threw a pilot together and did a chalkboard outline of six episodes. The second episode introduced this kind of sympathetic, funny, interesting guy who confounds the audience. It subverts your expectations. Every subsequent episode turns it over again until he reveals himself.

ANDREW JARECKI We built the series before anyone saw it. The emotional through line for us was our connection to the family of [first victim] Kathie Durst. We had become close with them when we were making All Good Things, interviewed them and the police, and put together a sort of documentary about the story to show [the actors]. These people were so destroyed by what happened to their sister and daughter. It was really hard to ignore. Bob became kind of a burlesque figure — the unusual behavior, dressing as a woman, burping, all of the ticks and that background of wealth and privilege. He’s a fascinating character, but the big thing for the audience of The Jinx, I think, is seeing Kathie’s niece who looks so much like her and tells how this family has been torn asunder. Getting closure for that family was one of the things that drove us through getting this done.

At what point did you decide Durst was guilty?

JARECKI People think it’s a joke to give Bob the benefit of the doubt. As soon as you hear that he chopped up his neighbor, nobody wants to hear the nuances of whether or not he killed his wife, accidentally killed his wife and got rid of the body or if some drug dealers broke in during the middle of the night and secreted his wife away — which is what he’d like us to believe. But when he reached out to me [after Jarecki made the 2010 fictionalized Durst story All Good Things], I felt like I had to give Bob the benefit of the doubt. You had to give him a safe place to tell his story. But the moment where that changed was our finding that letter in the same handwriting [as an anonymous letter alerting police to Berman’s body].

SMERLING I always found it so hard to reconcile that Bob had been so close to three tragedies. But as journalists, we try to draw out the truth by neutral­izing your perspective. Once we saw the letter, we couldn’t neutralize our perspective anymore.

Were you ever concerned for your safety?

JARECKI Murder is one possibility to solving a problem — you always had to be attentive to that. But the man, in our view, is not just a random killer. He’s a strategic killer and won’t put himself at risk unless he thinks there’s an upside. I think we were doing what Bob wanted us to do. He came to me know­ing what we didn’t know at the time: that he killed all three of those people. What drove him to reach out to filmmakers and say, “I want my story to be told?” I think this compulsion to confess is a driver for him. It’s a release he was looking for.

There was some criticism about the timetable for production, what you knew when and at what time you delivered evidence to the police. Do you want to clear any of that up?

JARECKI We were really straightforward about it at the time. We had given the evidence to the authorities two years before the show aired. And we thought that it was responsible and appropriate. And there was so much heat around the show, the natural instinct of the press would include trying to figure out if we were making a spectacle of it. That’s not what we did.

Are you going to be called as witnesses?

JARECKI The reason we’re not talking to press now is that there’s a live case being prepared, and we’re going to be witnesses in that case. To try the case in the media, or for us to provide some pseudo-expert opinions about how the legal process is going to go, is only going to confuse people and go beyond our sphere of expertise. We’re just trying to be respectful of the process for everyone. Ultimately, Bob has to get a fair hearing and the victims have to be respected. This will be a real thorough, thoughtful process with lots of people weighing in.

Have there been any new developments on your end since the finale and Durst’s arrest?

SMERLING We’re as in the dark as anyone. We’ve been able to put it aside and work on some other things. It will come alive again if Los Angeles decides to try him, but right now we’re turning our attention to other projects.

By Michael O’Connell (The Hollywood Reporter)

‘The Jinx’ Duo Reflect on Robert Durst, Making Documentaries for TV