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)

35 Years Later, Sister in Durst Case Is Still Looking for Answers

From left, Kathie Durst, Robert Durst, Tom Hughes and Mary McCormack Hughes in 1973. Ms. Hughes, Ms. Durst’s sister, remains convinced that Mr. Durst was culpable in her disappearance.

 

Mary McCormack Hughes has a vivid recollection of the phone call she got 35 years ago this week from Robert Durst, her brother-in-law. “Have you seen Kathie?” he asked.

Kathie was Kathleen Durst, Ms. Hughes’s younger sister, who at 29 was in the final months of medical school. Her marriage to Mr. Durst, the eccentric scion of a prominent New York real estate family, had splintered under Mr. Durst’s efforts to control her, repeated rounds of quarreling and, finally, violence.

No, Ms. Hughes, said she had responded, but I’ve been meaning to talk to you about Kathie.

Mr. Durst cut her off, saying he was going to the police, and abruptly ended the call, she said.

Ms. Hughes remembers that as she hung up the phone in her East Side apartment that February evening in 1982, she turned to her husband, Tom Hughes, and said, “I think he killed her.”

Today, Mr. Durst, 73, sits in Los Angeles County Jail awaiting trial on a charge of murder — not of Kathie, but of Susan Berman, a confidante who, investigators say, knew his secrets and shielded him from newspaper reporters after his wife vanished.

John Lewin, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles, claims that Mr. Durst shot Ms. Berman in the back of her head at her Los Angeles home in December 2000, fearing that she would cooperate with a newly revived investigation into Ms. Durst’s disappearance.

Mr. Durst was never charged with his wife’s killing, nor was anyone else. (Ms. Durst’s body has never been recovered.) He and his battery of lawyers have insisted that he did not kill Ms. Berman and does not know what happened to his first wife.

Ms. Hughes has not paid much attention to events in Los Angeles.

“I think it’s going to be a disaster,” she said, with bitterness, of the coming trial during her first interview in more than three decades, at an Upper East Side apartment building where her sister once lived with Mr. Durst. A large photograph of Kathie Durst dressed in an Annie Oakley-style dress and a wide-brimmed hat from the Wild West hung over the fireplace.

“Hollywood and publicity,” Ms. Hughes said. “They’re not really interested in my sister — they’re interested in Bob. I just want to find out what happened to my sister.”

The obsession nearly destroyed her.

Kathie was the youngest daughter and the fifth child of a telephone company representative, who died in 1966, and a working mother. After graduating from high school in New Hyde Park on Long Island, Kathie trained as a dental hygienist and moved to a building owned by the Durst family on the East Side of Manhattan. Mr. Durst oversaw the building and when the two met, there was an instant attraction.

“It was a mutual attraction, a chemistry,” Ms. Hughes recalled. “He had a magnetism. Kathie had the same thing.”

The Hugheses liked Mr. Durst when he started dating Kathie, then 19, in early 1971. He was nine years older and from another world. His father, Seymour Durst, presided over a Manhattan real estate company whose towers formed the skyline.

The Dursts were low key, not the stereotypical gold-and-bombast developers. For a while, Ms. Hughes said, her sister was unaware just how wealthy the Durst family was.

After their second date, Mr. Durst asked Kathie to move with him to Vermont to run a health food store. But after a short time in Vermont, the couple returned to New York, and Mr. Durst resumed working at the family real estate business.

They were married in a private ceremony on his birthday, April 12, in 1973.

The couple partied at Studio 54, the cocaine-drenched disco that was a haunt for celebrities and others. They sailed on the Mediterranean Sea and traveled to Thailand.

Bob and Kathie socialized with Mary and Tom, even buying a racehorse together from a friend who was a breeder. “He heard it was a tax deduction,” Tom Hughes said. “I think he liked that part of it.”

But the Dursts’ relationship took a dark turn after 1976, when Mr. Durst forced his wife to have an abortion. He didn’t want children; she did.

“That’s when it went south,” Mr. Hughes said.

Ms. Durst sought independence, enrolling in nursing school in Danbury, Conn. The couple bought a cottage nearby, on Lake Truesdale in South Salem, N.Y., in northern Westchester County, but also had a co-op on Riverside Drive in Manhattan and rented an apartment on the East Side.

After graduating from nursing school, Ms. Durst immediately started medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, hoping to become a pediatrician.

“She was excited to be a medical student,” recalled a classmate, Dr. Alicia Landman-Reiner. “She worked hard. She always took a seat in the front row and took notes.”

By 1980, the couple quarreled frequently, Ms. Hughes said, adding that her sister often called her with accounts of their latest fight. Ms. Durst contacted a divorce lawyer. She gathered damaging material about her husband and the Durst family, she told friends and her sister.

Mr. Durst has long acknowledged his marijuana use, and his wife used cocaine, according to friends and members of her family. Both had affairs, his and her friends and relatives say. Mr. Durst, they say, cut off her credit cards to keep her close.

“Bob’s possessiveness was escalating into physical violence,” said a nursing school classmate of Ms. Durst’s, Eleanor Joy Schwank, during an interview in 2000. “I never witnessed it, but Kathie would call me saying, ‘Bobby is really violent.’”

Mr. Durst, impatient to leave a McCormack family gathering, yanked his wife’s hair, shocking her family, Ms. Hughes said. On another occasion, he stormed into their East Side apartment, where Ms. Durst was talking with friends, and kicked an acquaintance in the face. The man later settled a lawsuit over the episode with Mr. Durst.

Three weeks before Ms. Durst disappeared, she was treated at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx for bruises she suffered during an argument with her husband, according to several friends and medical records later recovered by investigators.

Ms. Durst told her sister, her friends and virtually anyone who would listen, “If anything happens to me, don’t let Bob get away with it.”

Geraldine McInerney, a friend of Ms. Hughes’s, said she had met Ms. Durst at the couple’s East Side apartment on Jan. 29, 1982. Ms. Durst wanted someone she knew to sublet the apartment so that if “the situation between her and Durst became too threatening, she would have an alternative place to stay,” Ms. McInerney said in a 1983 affidavit.

It was the last time Ms. McInerney saw her.

A week later, Mr. Durst walked into a Manhattan police station to file a missing person’s report. He carried a copy of New York magazine with his father’s picture and the headline “The Men Who Own New York.”

Mr. Durst told the police that he had put his wife on a train to Manhattan from Westchester County on Sunday night so that she could attend school the next day. He said he had later spoken to her by phone, after she arrived at their Riverside Drive co-op.

Soon, the story was splashed across New York’s tabloids.

Mr. Durst, who hired detectives and offered a reward, told his family, friends and the police that his wife might have run away with a drug dealer.

Her family found that implausible, since she was only months away from graduating. “She always wanted to take care of children,” Mr. Hughes said.

Decades later, in an interview with the producers of the six-part HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” Mr. Durst acknowledged that much of what he had told the police was a lie.

Why did he lie?

“I wanted them to leave me alone,” he explained to Mr. Lewin, the Los Angeles prosecutor, during an interrogation after his 2015 arrest in New Orleans on gun charges. “I wasn’t used to somebody questioning my veracity.”

Frustrated by what they regarded as a desultory investigation by New York City detectives, Ms. Hughes and a small band of friends became amateur sleuths, tracking sightings of her sister and Mr. Durst and scouring phone records. By March 1982, they were making furtive late-night visits to what they believed was the scene of the crime, the stone cottage at the edge of Lake Truesdale.

On one trip, Mr. Hughes found an ominous list in Mr. Durst’s handwriting in a garbage can: “town dump, bridge, dig, boat” and “shovel.”

They found Ms. Durst’s diamond earrings in her drawer at the Riverside Drive apartment, which Mr. Durst had told the police she was wearing when she disappeared.

To this day, Ms. Hughes is shocked that New York City detectives never searched the cottage.

Ms. Hughes and Ms. McInerney pored over pages and pages of phone records from the cottage, the apartments and the Durst Organization that they had gotten from the detectives.

Night after night, the two women matched the phone numbers to names until they discovered that Mr. Durst had made collect calls to his family’s business from Ship Bottom, N.J., shortly after his wife vanished.

The calls, coupled with the list of words, led them to suspect that Ms. Durst might be buried somewhere in the nearby Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Ms. Hughes and Ms. McInerney borrowed a car and drove the investigating detectives down to Ship Bottom.

But the detectives seemed uninterested, Ms. Hughes said, and the case was no longer generating headlines. Mr. Durst was not charged with any crime.

Ms. Hughes and her family wrestled with Mr. Durst in Surrogate’s Court for control of Ms. Durst’s estate, but suffered another defeat in 1983.

“I was just so fed up,” Ms. Hughes said. “I broke down. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

For a long time, she refused to drive a car or even leave her apartment. She focused on her two daughters, whom she had long neglected.

In the end, Ms. Hughes was left without answers as to her sister’s fate. But she never lost her conviction about Mr. Durst’s culpability.

Ms. Hughes, her husband and Ms. McInerney cooperated with an investigation into Ms. Durst’s disappearance that was started in 2000 by an enterprising State Police investigator, Joe Becerra, only to be disappointed again when the local district attorney did not indict Mr. Durst.

In recent years, Ms. Hughes and other members of her family have gone back to Surrogate’s Court to fight Mr. Durst and to have her sister declared dead as of Jan. 31, 1982. Their mother, Ann McCormack, died in May at 102, without knowing what happened to Kathie.

“It’s absurd that after 35 years New York has not charged him with murder,” Robert Abrams, whose law firm, Abrams Fensterman, is representing Ms. Durst’s family, said of Mr. Durst. “If they’re not going to do it criminally, we’ll do it civilly.”

Whatever happens in Los Angeles, Mr. Durst will return to federal prison to serve the remaining time on a seven-year gun conviction.

“We want some sort of peace, some answers as to where she’s at,” Ms. Hughes said. “Why couldn’t he just tell us? He has nothing to lose. He’s going to stay in jail.”

(NY Times)

 

 

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: Meth use led to HBO live mic murder ‘confession’

Eccentric real estate heir Robert Durst claims drugs fueled his seeming “killed them all” confession to the murders of his wife and two others in an HBO documentary.

That was Durst’s explanation for his caught-on-tape outburst when a prosecutor quizzed him about it after his 2015 arrest for the murder of confidante Susan Berman, the New York Post reported Saturday.

The paper reports that Durst, now 73, told the prosecutor he was using meth during his interviews with the filmmakers behind HBO’s “The Jinx.” The six-part series ended with a live microphone capturing Durst muttering to himself, “There it is. You’re caught! What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”  Durst was arrested on the same day the final installment aired.

“I was on meth, I was on meth the whole time. . . It should have been obvious,” Durst said to Los Angeles prosecutor John Lewin, the New York Post reports. “I think the reason I did it had to be because I was swooped, speeding.”

The Post based its report on a transcript of the interrogation that was just made public in a court filing related to the Berman case.

LA prosecutors say Durst killed Berman in 2000 out of fear she’d implicate him in the 1982 disappearance of his young wife Kathleen Durst, who is presumed killed, according to the paper.

The Post reported that investigators believe Durst’s third murder was that of a Texas neighbor in 2001. A jury cleared Durst after he testified that he killed the man during a struggle over a gun.

Durst was asked why he didn’t split after the filmmakers confronted him in 2012 with a letter anonymously sent to police in 2000 tipping them to the location of Susan Berman’s body that matched handwriting on a letter he had sent her years before.

“You saw the envelopes. How come you didn’t … leave then?” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Lewin asked. “It’s mind-boggling to me.”

“I guess inertia,” Durst replied. “I just didn’t really, really, really think that I was gonna end up arrested.”

Durst acknowledged he was in the process of fleeing when he was arrested. He was found in a hotel with a false Texas ID, stacks of $100 bills, bags of marijuana, a .38-caliber revolver, a map folded to show Louisiana and Cuba, and a flesh-toned latex mask with salt-and-pepper hair.

“I was the worst fugitive the world has ever met,” he said.

Throughout the interrogation, Lewin complimented Durst, telling him he was brilliant and the most interesting suspect he’d ever investigated. He prodded and coaxed and constantly pushed for a confession.

“I know that when you killed Susan, that was not something you wanted to do,” Lewin said.

“Um, I’m gonna stay away from killing Susan,” Durst replied.

(Fox News)

Robert Durst Said Giving Details About Missing Wife Would Be ‘Pleading Guilty’

Los Angeles prosecutors have released a transcript of a 2015 interrogation of millionaire murder suspect Robert Durst in which he says he can’t provide details about the disappearance of his first wife and the murder of a close friend because it would amount to “pleading guilty.”

Durst, 73, then mused aloud about what would be in it for him to give information about the two women to investigators.

“As I see it, all you could for me is t

The conversation with Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Lewin took place shortly after Durst was arrested in New Orleans on a warrant out of Los Angeles.

Authorities in LA have since charged him with the 2000 murder of confidante Susan Berman, allegedly killed because she knew too much about the 1982 vanishing of Kathie Durst, who is presumed dead.

Durst danced around questions about both women in the interview, sometimes saying he was going to “stay away” from talking about certain aspects, according to the transcript.

“You’d like some details from me about if I knew where Kathie’s body is,” Durst said to the prosecutor at one point. “And about what happened with Susan.”

When Lewin said that’s what he wanted, Durst said, “If I tell you those things, I’m pleading guilty.”

Durst has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers said the interview with their client, outside the presence of his attorneys, was an “improper interrogation.”

The transcript, which was released as part of a motion ahead of a hearing next Wednesday, also contained the following revelations:

• Durst says he was on methamphetamines when he filmed the HBO documentary series “The Jinx,” which examined his ties to Kathie Durst’s disappearance, Berman’s slaying and the 2003 dismemberment of a neighbor in Texas. The series ended with Durst muttering into a hot mic that he “killed them all.”

“The whole time I was on meth,” Durst told the prosecutor, according to the transcript. “I think the reason I did it had to be because I was swooped, speeding.” He also said that he smoked pot every day for as long as he could remember.

• Durst said he only had five years left to live after losing his esophagus to cancer and struggling with hydrocephalous, or fluid on the brain.

“So there’s not much I could agree with anybody that somebody could offer me, unless they could offer me more life,” he said when Lewin asked him about his hopes for the future.

• Durst said he didn’t flee right after “The Jinx” wrapped, when he was confronted with a damning piece of newly unearthed evidence, because of “inertia.”

Durst, who was allegedly on his way to Cuba when he was caught in New Orleans, also said that he really doesn’t like life on the run.

“Being a fugitive was not something I did well,” he said. “I was the worst fugitive the world has ever met.”

• Durst seemed unsure of whether he has Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the spectrum of autism disorders, as his lawyers have claimed.

“I never thought that amounted to anything,” he told Lewin. But then he added, “The thing with Asperger’s syndrome is intelligent people don’t get along or don’t enjoy communicating with other people. And that is certainly me.”

Durst denies killing Berman. He has not been charged in connection with Kathie Durst’s apparent death but denies killing her in the interview with Lewin.

“If you had killed Susan, would you tell me?” Lewin asked him.

“No,” Durst said.

Durst was acquitted of the murder of Texas neighbor Morris Black after he argued he killed him in self-defense and dismembered his body in a panic. He is currently serving a seven-year sentence for gun possession.

ell me that ‘this is the best prison in California and that I will recommend you go there,” the real-estate heir said, according to the transcript.

(NBC News)

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)