Robert Durst allegedly stiffed investigators on $130k bill

durst

Killer real-estate scion Robert Durst stiffed private investigators on a $130,000 bill after hiring them to probe his March 2015 arrest for the murder of his friend Susan Berman, according to a new lawsuit.

The jailed Durst is now awaiting trial in Los Angeles over her 2000 death.

Law-enforcement officials believe Durst killed Berman to prevent her from cooperating in an investigation into the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathy.

Durst retained New York-based T&M Protection Resources two weeks after his 2015 arrest, the Manhattan Supreme Court suit says. He paid a $25,000 retainer and the firm’s private eyes spent nearly 500 hours doing field work and digital research into the events surrounding his capture, according to court papers.

When Durst didn’t pay the invoice by July, the firm tried to get the money through his lawyer Steven Rabinowitz and wife Deborah Lee Charatan, according to court papers.

After that collection attempt failed, T&M Vice President Michael Mansfield made a personal plea to Durst to pay his “severely delinquent” account, which has ballooned to over $160,000 with interest.

“We understand how difficult these past months have been for you, but also know that through Steve, that you honor your commitments,” Mansfield wrote to Durst in February 2016.

But Durst never coughed up the cash, the suit says.

The firm’s attorney, Vincent Amicizia, said Durst did not give a reason for why he refused to pay the bill.

He presumably has plenty of cash. Durst received $65 million to cut ties with his family in 2007. The Durst Organization, run by younger brother Douglas, built 1 World Trade Center and 4 Times Square.

Four years earlier, Durst was acquitted of murder in Texas after testifying that he shot his Galveston neighbor Morris Black in self-defense and then chopped up the body and dumped it in the sea. He was convicted of tampering with evidence and jumping bail.

His attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

(New York Post)

 

More Drama in Robert Durst’s Pre-Trial Murder Hearing

Robert Durst’s defense attorney went on the attack Friday against testimony from a longtime friend who’d said the eccentric real estate heir had admitted murdering their mutual friend Susan Berman in 2000.

In blockbuster testimony Thursday, New York advertising executive Nick Chavin said Durst effectively confessed to the killing after they had dinner in December 2014.

“I had to. It was her or me. I had no choice,” Chavin said Durst told him that evening.

Through most of a five-hour hearing Friday, defense attorney Dick DeGuerin tried to undermine Chavin’s credibility by showing he had spent seven months giving Los Angeles prosecutors shifting, alternative versions of what Durst did or did not say about Berman’s death. Ultimately, he pushed Chavin into declaring that he had indeed lied to prosecutors previously.

“I’m covering up,” Chavin said after hearing a recording of one mid-2015 interview with Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin. “For 56 minutes, I was covering up. … Yes, I was lying.”

Prosecutors say Durst, 73, shot Berman in the head to keep her from revealing that he had killed his wife, Kathie Durst, who has not been seen since 1982.

Chavin said Thursday that Berman told him several times that Durst had told her he had murdered Kathie.

Chavin, 72, met Berman in the 1970s and became close to her friend Durst in the early 1980s after Durst helped him land his first big advertising account. When Chavin married in 1988, he chose Durst to be his best man.

Chavin testified last week — more than a year before Durst is likely to go to trial — in a procedure called a “conditional examination,” to preserve his testimony because prosecutors fear he might die, or be killed, before trial.

On direct examination Thursday, he said he began speaking to Lewin and other Los Angeles prosecutors and detectives in April 2015. But it wasn’t until many months and many phone interviews later that on Oct. 30 that year that he finally disclosed what Durst had said to him after their December 2014 dinner.

Chavin told Lewin on Thursday that it was extremely difficult for him to call his close friend a murderer.

“It sounds ridiculous, but yes, this was my best friend, who killed my other best friend,” he said in court.

On Friday, he made the same point more emphatically.

“The only thing I could compare it to is the death of a child,” he said about testifying against Durst.

DeGuerin offered another explanation of why Chavin’s description of his conversation with Durst changed during 10 to 15 interviews with prosecutors.

“It took you seven months to come up with the story,” he said.

“I didn’t ever ‘come up’ with the story,” Chavin responded. “It occurred.”

He had testified that Durst invited him to dinner that December to talk about Berman and Kathie Durst, but that those subjects never came up. After dinner, as they were about to walk away, Chavin said he asked, “You wanted to talk about Susan?”

At that point, he testified Thursday, Durst turned and said, “I had to. It was her or me.”

But quoting from those many recorded interviews, DeGuerin showed that Chavin had given prosecutors a range of descriptions of what Durst said in response to the question about Berman.

In one interview, Chavin said Durst shrugged. Another time, he said, Durst mumbled something Chavin couldn’t understand. A third time, Durst allegedly said, “Next time,” when asked about Berman.

On the stand Friday, Chavin said he was covering up what happened out of loyalty to Durst. “I was waffling,” he said at one point. “I’m clearly dodging, aren’t I?” he said at another.

“Everything I say is a cover-up,” he told the defense attorney.

DeGuerin suggested Chavin was testifying against Durst now to curry favor with Douglas Durst, Robert Durst’s brother. The two brothers are said to hate each other, but Douglas Durst leads the family’s sprawling real estate business and could send advertising work to Chavin.

In one recorded interview, Chavin told prosecutors that his business “depends upon goodwill” from Douglas Durst. “I want to do everything in my power to … have Douglas Durst feel the best about me.”

DeGuerin played an hour-long interview from July 2015 in which Chavin angrily complains about prosecutors having called his wife, Teresa Chavin. In her interview, Teresa Chavin apparently had said her husband told her of Durst’s confession.

On the recording, Chavin tells Lewin that his wife is a hysteric who makes things up and that he lied to her about what Durst had said.

“I’m a terrible liar. I’m in advertising,” Chavin says on the recording. “I’m a professional liar.”

On the stand Friday, Chavin insisted that he was covering up what Durst had said out of loyalty to his friend.

But now, he told Lewin after DeGuerin finished, he wants to tell the truth out of loyalty to Berman.

“Look, I want to get it out,” he said in court. “Nothing is going to change my mind about this, not even the fear of death. I went through a horrible time over this.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, Superior Court Judge Mark E. Windham set the next hearing in the case for April 25, to consider evidence-suppression and other motions and to hear advance testimony from four more witnesses.

(Courthouse News)

Durst admits doing HBO documentary was ‘stupid’

Millionaire real-estate heir Robert Durst admitted he was “stupid” to participate in an HBO documentary that appeared to implicate him in the 2000 murder of his friend, according to new evidence.

In a recorded jail phone call played Friday in Los Angeles court, Durst told his pal Nathan Chavin that “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” is what landed him in prison in 2015.

Unknowingly wearing a live microphone during the documentary, Durst muttered, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Shortly after the potentially damning confession aired, Durst was arrested in the years-old shooting death of his close friend Susan Berman in Los Angeles.

The kooky cross-dresser, 73, has also been long suspected of murdering his wife Kathie in 1982. Her body was never found.

Chavin took the stand this week as part of a hearing to record testimony from witnesses who are old or who fear for their safety, in case they’re not able to testify at Durst’s trial, which won’t begin before next year.

Chavin testified that he stonewalled authorities for seven months after Berman’s death. But he eventually told prosecutors Durst admitted to him in 2014, “I had to. It was her or me. I had no choice.”

On cross examination, Durst’s lawyers confronted Chavin with transcripts of him denying that Durst indicated he killed Berman, suggesting that Chavin made up the story.

The 72-year-old said he struggled to tell authorities about the alleged confession because of loyalty to his longtime friend Durst.

Durst allegedly confided to Berman that he had killed Kathie, Chavin testified a day earlier.

“Susan said to me, ‘Bob killed Kathie,’ ” Chavin recalled.

(NY Post)

Murder Victim Said Robert Durst Admitted Killing Wife, Witness Says

A longtime friend of Robert Durst testified Thursday that after a dinner in 2014, he asked the millionaire about the murder of their mutual close friend Susan Berman and got a disturbing answer.

“It was her or me,” Durst said, according to ad executive Nick Chavin.

A year later, Durst, the subject of the HBO show “The Jinx,” would be charged with the 2000 slaying of Berman, allegedly because she knew too much about his involvement in the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathie.

Prosecutors called Chavin, 72, to the witness stand during a pretrial hearing to question him about damning statements that Durst allegedly made about both women throughout the years. A judge has not yet ruled whether a jury can hear the testimony when Durst’s trial gets underway.

Chavin testified that after Kathie Durst went missing, Berman made a stunning claim: “Bob killed Kathie.”

“I said, ‘No he didn’t,'” Chavin testified.

“She said, ‘Yes, he did.'”

Chavin said he asked Berman how she knew, and she replied that “he told me” and that it was an accident.

He said Berman told him: “There’s nothing anyone can do for Kathie and we have to protect him [Bob Durst] now.”

Chavin said that after Berman confided in him, he didn’t press for further details and and “then we stopped talking about it.” Chavin said he thought Kathie, who “had a bit of a drug problem,” might have been killed by a dealer.

“I didn’t really want to know,” he said, explaining that he did not go to authorities because he could not believe Durst had harmed Kathie — that is, until Berman was found murdered almost 20 years later.

Chavin had talked to Berman a month before her death. “She was writing a very interesting and possibly dangerous work,” he said. “She said it was very sensitive and secret.”

After Berman, a mobster’s daughter, was found shot to death at her Benedict Canyon home in December 2000, police contacted Chavin and he told the investigator what Berman had said about Durst killing Kathie.

“I began to doubt my own feelings [about Durst’s innocence],” Chavin said. “Nobody else had reason to harm Susan Berman.”

After Durst was arrested in Texas for the 2001 killing and dismemberment of his elderly neighbor, Morris Black, Chavin’s concerns deepened.

He had doubted that Durst killed Kathie or Berman because he didn’t believe he was “capable of hands-on violence of that extreme level,” Chavin said. But after Black’s gruesome end, “it was like taking the gloves off… all things are possible.”

Then, in 2014, Durst invited Chavin to dinner. He didn’t say why, but Chavin had an idea.

“I believe that the only thing it could be about were the unanswered question about the disappearance of Kathie and the death of Susan Berman,” Chavin said.

The subject didn’t come up during the meal, however. It wasn’t until they had left the restaurant and were on the sidewalk that Chavin reminded Durst that they had not talked about Berman.

“Bob said, ‘I had to,'” Chavin recalled. “‘It was her or me. I had no choice.'”

“It’s fair to say I wasn’t surprised,” Chavin continued. “I was not shocked but my response was one of ‘Now I know.'”

Chavin, who appeared upset, then added, “This is not easy.”

Prosecutors kept Chavin’s name under wraps before calling him to the stand for a hearing set up to collect early testimony from witnesses who were elderly or feared they could be harmed by Durst, even though he’s serving a seven-year sentence on a gun possession charge.

The other witnesses who testified during the hearing were:

  • Dr. Albert Kuperman, who was the associate dean of the New York City medical school where Kathie Durst was a student when she vanished in 1982 after calling him to say she was too sick to come in. Questioning focused on whether Kuperman knew for sure that it was Kathie Durst on the other end of the line, which is significant because it could bolster or undermine her husband’s account of her whereabouts before she went missing.
  • Susan Giordano, who worked for Chavin and befriended Durst in 2002 while he was jailed for Morris Black’s death. She testified that they had a platonic relationship but talked about getting a “love nest” and that he gave her $350,000 in gifts and loans. Giordano was called to the stand because she had stored boxes full of Durst’s personal papers — and allowed producers of the HBO program, “The Jinx,” to go through them before they were seized by police in 2015.

The defense claims that the contents of the boxes were privileged and should not be used as evidence at Durst’s trial, but prosecutors contend that Durst waived that privilege when he gave “The Jinx” producers access.

“The Jinx” examined Durst’s ties to his wife’s disappearance and Berman’s death, as well as the 2001 death and dismemberment of Black. The series ended with Durst blurting out on a hot microphone that he “killed them all.”

In an interesting footnote, Chavin testified that in 2014, Durst tried to talk him into participating in “The Jinx,” but he demurred because it seemed like a “terrible idea.”

“[Durst] didn’t think they meant to do him any harm,” Chavin said of the producers. “He got very, very, very upset at me for not doing it.”

(NBC News)

Friend of Robert Durst’s alleged victim is certain he’ll be convicted

Robert Durst will finally be convicted of murder, according to Cathy Scott, the biographer of his alleged victim Susan Berman.

Scott — author of “Murder of a Mafia Daughter” (Barricade Books) — will be in the Los Angeles courtroom on Feb. 14 for Durst’s pretrial hearing.

She says Durst will be convicted, even though he has the best lawyers money can buy.

“The evidence is clear. I don’t see how he can get out of this one,” Scott told me.

Detectives initially bungled the case in 2000, when Berman was shot in the back of the head, because they found a wanted poster for her father, Davie Berman, a partner of mobster Bugsy Siegel, in her living room.

“They assumed it was a Mafia hit,” Scott said. The detectives didn’t suspect her best friend Durst.

“They met at UCLA. Nothing romantic. Susan always said Bobby was the brother she never had.”

When Durst’s first wife, Kathie, disappeared in 1982, Berman became his spokeswoman and shielded him from reporters. “She had told friends, ‘I know he did it.’ ”

Armed with new evidence, detectives started looking into Kathie’s disappearance, and Durst was allegedly afraid Berman would cooperate.

“When the case was reopened, he shut her up,” Scott said.

“She loved Bobby unconditionally. She didn’t care if he was a murderer. Her father was a killer and a mobster. She revered her father. She was anesthetized to murder.”

(Page Six)

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)

Robert Durst said he was high on meth during some interviews for HBO series ‘The Jinx’

Robert Durst, the eccentric heir to a real estate fortune, told Los Angeles prosecutors last year that he was high on methamphetamines during interviews he gave for the 2015 HBO miniseries “The Jinx,” according to court papers released Friday.

The series covered Durst’s links to three tragedies involving his wife, who disappeared in 1982 and is presumed dead, his best friend who was shot execution-style in her Beverly Hills home in 2000, and a former neighbor in Texas who Durst admitted shooting, chopping up and dumping in a bay in 2001 — in self-defense.

A jury acquitted Durst in the Texas case and he was a free man until the night before the final episode of the miniseries aired. In it, Durst is caught muttering into a microphone during a bathroom break: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Worried that Durst may leave the country, authorities arrested him in New Orleans, where he had been staying in a hotel under a fake name. He had marijuana, a .38-caliber revolver, more than $40,000 in cash and a mask, according to court papers.

Days later, while sitting in a New Orleans jail, Durst gave a nearly three-hour interview to prosecutors from Los Angeles who were investigating his links to the slaying of Susan Berman, the friend of Durst’s who was discovered with a single bullet wound to the back of the head in Beverly Hills. Durst has since been charged with that murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

On Friday, a transcript of the March 15, 2015, jailhouse interview was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In it, Durst claims he was intoxicated during the filming of the HBO series.  “I was on meth, I was on meth the whole time … it should have been obvious,” Durst said. “I think the reason I did it had to be because I was swooped, speeding,” he added.

Attorneys for Durst filed papers Thursday challenging some of the evidence against him in the Berman case, including the New Orleans jailhouse interview, during which he had no attorney representing him.

L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lewin had previously told the court that Durst voluntarily participated in the questioning, The transcript includes a portion in which LAPD Det. Mike Whelan read Durst his Miranda rights.

“Anything you say may be used against you in court. Do you understand?” Whelan asked.

“I understand,” Durst replied.

Durst, 73, is currently serving a seven-year federal prison term for illegal possession of the .38-caliber revolver at the time of his New Orleans arrest. He was transferred from an Indiana penitentiary to Southern California in November.

In his first court appearance last month, Durst sat in a wheelchair and pleaded not guilty, telling the judge, “I did not kill Susan Berman.”

In the wide-ranging jailhouse transcript, Durst touched on his bitterness toward his wealthy family, who granted control of the business to a brother. At one point, he explained his lack of personal ambition and success as a kind of pacifism: “I don’t like to fight.”

He also described turning down an interview request from TV journalist Connie Chung because she’d previously done a long piece on boxer Mike Tyson that made him out to be a good guy, despite his many run-ins with the law. “I never felt like that,” Durst said. “I never felt that I was really a good guy.”

At another point during the interrogation, Durst described himself as “the worst fugitive the world has ever met,” referring to his six weeks on the lam in 2001 when facing murder charges in Texas.

When Lewin said it was “mind-boggling” to him that Durst hadn’t tried to flee the country before the HBO series aired, Durst said he’d been suffering from “inertia”.

“I just didn’t really, really, really think that I was gonna end up arrested,” he added.

When Durst said he was surprised that his lawyers allowed him to take part in the documentary, Lewin reminded him that his legal team had repeatedly discouraged him from participating.

But as the interview drifted in and out of episodes in Durst’s complicated life, Lewin kept prompting him to talk about the slaying of Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster whom Durst met while both were studying at UCLA.

His efforts to elicit a confession included complimenting Durst, repeatedly, on his unusual honesty and brutally frank self-assessments.  But when that failed, Lewin confronted Durst more directly, asking,”If you had killed Susan, would you tell me?”

“No,” Durst replied.

(LA Times)

Robert Durst’s lawyers challenge evidence and accuse prosecutor of ‘deceptive’ jailhouse interview

Robert Durst has said he’s eager to let a Los Angeles jury decide whether he killed his friend and confidant Susan Berman, but a brewing legal battle may impede the start of any trial.

Attorneys for Durst filed court papers Thursday that challenge some of the evidence against the eccentric millionaire and offer a clearer glimpse into their defense. They argue that the high-profile murder case was rushed by an HBO miniseries and tainted by an improper jailhouse interrogation by a veteran Los Angeles County prosecutor.

The filing in Los Angeles County Superior Court comes more than a month after Durst, 73, arrived in Southern California for what is expected to be a sensational trial over the death of Berman in 2000 at her Benedict Canyon cottage.

In his first court appearance in November, Durst sat in a wheelchair and pleaded not guilty, telling the judge, “I did not kill Susan Berman.” He remains in custody at L.A. County Jail.

Durst, the scion of a prominent Manhattan real estate family, has for years generated fascination that climaxed in a 2015 miniseries on HBO, “The Jinx.”

The six-part documentary series explored the disappearance of his wife, the death of Berman and his acquittal of murder charges in the slaying of a neighbor in Texas. It came to a dramatic finale with footage of Durst muttering into a microphone during a bathroom break: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

The final episode’s revelation was compounded by what happened off-camera. On the eve of the episode’s March 15, 2015, airing, authorities arrested Durst in New Orleans, where he had been staying in a hotel under a fake name. He had marijuana, a .38-caliber revolver, more than $40,000 in cash and a mask, according to court papers.

The next morning before court, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lewin questioned Durst for about two hours — without defense attorneys present, they say.

The interrogation by Lewin was “improper and deceptive,” Durst’s lawyers said. They said their client was “frail, afraid and quite disoriented,” according to court papers.

Lewin countered that Durst “intelligently and voluntarily” agreed to the interview, according to a declaration filed Dec. 5.

Durst’s attorneys mounted their challenges to the evidence in response to a request by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office for a judge to appoint a special monitor to evaluate evidence that may contain materials restricted by attorney-client privilege. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday.

The evidence in question comes from three sources: Durst’s New Orleans hotel room, his Houston home and the Hudson Valley, N.Y., home of a close family friend.

Prosecutors say the evidence was lawfully seized but that out of “an abundance of caution,” a judge should appoint an independent monitor to separate materials covered by attorney-client privilege.

Defense lawyers disagree, saying the search in New Orleans was illegal — an argument previously shot down by a federal judge overseeing a related weapons case against Durst.

As in so many elements connected to the case, “The Jinx” and its director, Andrew Jarecki, crop up.

Investigators want to examine roughly 60 boxes of personal papers involving Durst family legal disputes that were stored in the Hudson Valley basement of friend Susan Giordano. Prosecutors contend that Durst allowed Jarecki’s crew to rifle through the material to find a deposition of Durst’s brother, Douglas Durst, and scan various materials for “The Jinx,” thus waiving any claim to attorney-client privilege.

Jarecki submitted a declaration to prosecutors, describing how Giordano allowed him and his crew into her home with Durst’s blessing. Prosecutors say Durst reiterated that blessing in his jailhouse interview.

“Why did you give them that stuff?” Lewin, the prosecutor asked, according to a partial transcript of the questioning in court papers. Durst replied: “I wanted them to see the whole thing…. I couldn’t, uh, get them to see me as an acceptable human being if I was covering things up.”

Defense lawyers say Jarecki was only authorized to locate a DVD of Durst’s brother’s deposition.

The court filings by prosecutors and defense attorneys also provide glimpses into the years-long investigation, which has been led by LAPD Det. Gevork Shamlyan since 2012.

One report from New York State Police notes how six weeks before Durst’s arrest, L.A. prosecutors and detectives conducted a series of interviews with neighbors and friends of Durst and wife Kathleen Durst, who has been missing since 1982.

The same report says a contractor at Durst’s former South Salem, N.Y., home found a 19-inch saw behind a wall in the residence after Durst had moved out.

According to the report from 2016, the saw was secured in a long-term evidence vault while New York authorities discussed additional forensic tests.

(LA Times)

Robert Durst Pleads Not Guilty to 2000 Murder in Los Angeles

Robert A. Durst, the multimillionaire whose bizarre life of privilege and mayhem was the subject of a 2015 documentary, was arraigned here on Monday on charges of murdering a onetime confidante 16 years ago.

Mr. Durst is accused of having shot his friend, Susan Berman, to stop her from revealing any secrets behind his first wife’s disappearance in 1982. Ms. Berman was shot once in the back of the head in her Benedict Canyon home shortly after Mr. Durst said she told him that the authorities in New York wanted to talk to her about what happened to his wife.

Mr. Durst, 73, sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace, appeared before Judge Mark Windham in Los Angeles County Superior Court and entered a plea of not guilty. He had orange prison slippers on his feet.

Answering a procedural question from the judge, Mr. Durst said in a hoarse, low voice: “I am not guilty. I did not kill Susan Berman.”

Later, outside the courthouse, his lead defense lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said the same thing. “Bob is not guilty,” Mr. DeGuerin said. “He did not kill Susan Berman. He doesn’t know who did.”

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said the state would not seek the death penalty against Mr. Durst. Both sides agreed to convene again on Feb. 15 to set the date for a preliminary hearing.

Mr. Durst was arrested in New Orleans in March 2015 on a murder warrant issued in Los Angeles. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the illegal possession of a firearm. On Friday, he was transferred here from federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., to stand trial.

Suspicions have surrounded Mr. Durst since 1982, when his first wife, Kathleen Durst, disappeared from the couple’s stone cottage in Westchester County, N.Y. His friends and relatives believed that Mr. Durst, a member of the wealthy real estate family that runs the Durst Organization, was involved.

He was never charged in connection with the case.

Mr. Durst met Ms. Berman during the late 1960s at the University of California, Los Angeles, where they were students. Friends say there was an immediate bond. They came from wealthy families and had lost their mothers at a young age, possibly to suicide. Ms. Berman, the daughter of Davie Berman, a mobster who was a partner in Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, became a journalist and a screenwriter.

“We became fast friends,” Mr. Durst said during courtroom testimony in Galveston, Tex. “We were never boyfriend and girlfriend.”

Mr. Durst counted on Ms. Berman to shield him from the press when his wife’s sudden disappearance generated tabloid headlines in New York. He walked her down the aisle when she married at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles in 1984.

He left the family business in 1994 after his father, Seymour Durst, appointed his younger brother Douglas to take control of the Durst Organization. He has been estranged from his family since then — Douglas is expected to testify for the prosecution in Los Angeles — and for years led a peripatetic life, moving restlessly among California, New York and Texas, even as he became a suspect in three murders.

But it was Mr. Durst’s own hubris that brought his freewheeling ways to an end.

Beginning in 2010, he agreed to participate in the documentary — “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” — about his life and the murder allegations, which was eventually broadcast on HBO in February and March 2015.

His friends and lawyers had advised him not to participate for fear of antagonizing prosecutors.

But Mr. Durst told The New York Times he thought there was “no reason I shouldn’t say anything I want to anyone I want,” because it was unlikely that any prosecutor would undertake a “budget-busting” investigation for a couple of cold cases.

In “The Jinx,” Mr. Durst said Ms. Berman contacted him in October 2000 saying the authorities wanted to talk to her about his first wife. In quick succession, he married his current wife, Debrah Lee Charatan, and fled New York, renting modest apartments in Galveston and New Orleans while posing as a mute woman.

In December of that year, Ms. Berman’s body was found in her Los Angeles home, the back door open and her dogs running loose.

Initially, the police focused not on Mr. Durst but on Ms. Berman’s landlady and her agent.

But the authorities came to suspect that Mr. Durst was the author of a short anonymous note sent to the Beverly Hills police the same day Ms. Berman was found dead, saying there was a “cadaver” in her home.

The makers of “The Jinx” obtained a letter he wrote to her in which the lettering of the address on the envelope appears identical to that of the “cadaver” note, down to the misspelling of Beverly Hills as “Beverley.”

In 2001, when Mr. Durst was living in Texas, body parts of his elderly neighbor were found floating in Galveston Bay, and Mr. Durst was charged with his murder.

He was acquitted in 2003, despite his testimony of how he sat in a pool of blood while cutting up the body. Mr. Durst insisted that the man’s death was an accident and an act of self-defense.

Mr. Durst said during a 2015 interview that he did not have “the faintest idea” what happened to Ms. Berman, or to Ms. Durst, although he conceded in “The Jinx” that he had lied to the police about his whereabouts when his wife disappeared — “Nobody tells the whole truth,” he said — and that their relationship had descended into rounds of “fighting, slapping, pushing.”

“The Jinx” ended with Mr. Durst’s own words in an unguarded moment: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Just hours before the final episode of the documentary was broadcast, Mr. Durst was arrested in New Orleans. The police feared he was about to flee the country.

There is very little forensic evidence in either case and no apparent witnesses as to what happened to either woman. Prosecutors will have to rely on the decades-old memories of the people who knew the two women and Mr. Durst.

But Mr. Durst left footprints and provided leads for the authorities when he granted access to the producers of “The Jinx” to his credit card receipts, phone bills and legal papers, which put him in California at the time of Ms. Berman’s killing; when he gave a lengthy deposition in 2005 as part of a lawsuit against the Durst family trust; and when he spoke for 90 minutes with John Lewin, the Los Angeles prosecutor, after his arrest in New Orleans.

But all of that is likely to be the subject of fierce litigation before trial, as the defense moves to exclude the material. Mr. DeGuerin has described “The Jinx” as a “sensationalized docudrama.”

Mr. Durst has also told falsehoods over the years, which could cast doubt over both his protestations of innocence and his damaging admissions.

He told Ms. Berman and other friends that he witnessed his mother’s fall or leap from the roof of his childhood home in 1950, but Douglas Durst said that he was not there.

He testified in court in Galveston that he was “relieved” that his father did not hand him the family business, after telling friends in the 1990s that he was so furious with his father that he refused to attend Seymour’s funeral.

Even if Mr. Durst is ultimately found not guilty of murder, he will go back to prison to complete his 85-month sentence on the gun charge.

(NY Times)

Lawyer: ‘Medical Complications’ Delaying Robert Durst’s Extradition on Murder Charge

The lawyer representing Manhattan real estate heir and accused murderer Robert Durst says several unspecified “medical complications” have delayed his client’s impending extradition to California, where he has been charged with the 2000 execution-style shooting death of his longtime friend and spokeswoman Susan Berman.

Prominent Texas attorney Dick DeGuerin tells PEOPLE that Durst could be transferred “any day now” from the Louisiana prison that has held him for over a year to Los Angeles, where he will face prosecution. But DeGuerin is still awaiting word on when his client’s extradition will occur.

Late last year, the 73-year-old former fugitive agreed to be extradited by August 18. However, Durst’s mysterious medical issues keep delaying his eventual trip out west, according to DeGuerin.

The lawyer tells PEOPLE Durst has endured “serious surgery” that has ultimately “delayed action by the Bureau of Prisons” to initiate his extradition. DeGuerin did not provide more specifics on Durst’s condition.

“He’s recovering from the surgery very nicely,” DeGuerin says. “Of course, he’s had other serious medical problems, and he’s 73-years-old. That said, he’s eager to get to California and prove he didn’t kill Susan Berman.”

DeGuerin says he expects the state will begin trying his client in court in late 2017.

New Orleans police arrested Durst in Berman’s death on March 14, 2015 – a day before the airing of the last episode in HBO’s six-part documentary series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, which focused on the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen, as well as Berman’s death.

In the finale, Durst is confronted by filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, and presented with a 1999 letter Durst had written to Berman.

The missive’s handwriting appears to match an anonymous letter mailed to Beverly Hills Police, alerting them to a “cadaver” at Berman’s residence.

During that last episode, Durst appeared to mutter to himself that he’d “killed them all, of course.” He was allegedly unaware the filmmaker’s microphones were still recording at the time.

Durst denies any involvement in Berman’s death or his first wife’s vanishing.

In a 2015 interview with PEOPLE, DeGuerin said the show’s creators “were out to get [Durst] from the very get-go” and that Durst was “tricked into thinking he would get a fair opportunity to explain himself after being under unfair suspicion for almost all of his adult life in the disappearance of his wife.”

DeGuerin added, “Now, he’s unfairly suspected of killing Ms. Berman because of this entertainment program being creatively edited to make it look like he was either confessing or that there is new evidence when there is not. He is eager to finally get have his say in court, at his trial, in front of a jury and not with somebody who was only out to get an Emmy.”

(People)