Crime & Justice

'The Jinx:' Durst booked in Louisiana on weapons, drug charges

Photo of Robert Durst in New York City. He is the subject of the new HBO documentary series,
Photo of Robert Durst in New York City. He is the subject of the new HBO documentary series, "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst."
Photo Credit: Marc Smerling/Courtesy of HBO

Millionaire Robert Durst has been arrested following the airing of an HBO documentary in which he allegedly admitted to the killing of the three people. Durst will face murder charges in California, but may be tried for separate crimes in Louisiana first.

Updates

6:25 p.m.: Durst booked in Louisiana on weapons, drug charges

A Louisiana State Police trooper says millionaire Robert Durst has been booked on weapons charges in that state — on top of a first-degree murder charge lodged by Los Angeles authorities.

Trooper Melissa Matey told The Associated Press that an arrest warrant was issued for Durst and he was rebooked in the Orleans Parish Jail on Monday under two new charges. They are: convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance. Matey said the controlled substance was a small amount of marijuana.

Matey said she does not know whether Louisiana prosecutors will try to keep him in the state on those charges before he is sent to Los Angeles.

- AP

4:55 p.m.: Durst's extradition to California delayed, for now

Robert Durst may face trail in Louisiana before coming to California to face murder chargers. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, prosecutors in the state where Durst was apprehended are considering action against him. The report includes details of today's court proceedings in New Orleans:

Durst’s Houston-based attorney Chip Lewis said he may face a marijuana possession charge based on items recovered from his hotel room when he was arrested.

Durst was in possession of a revolver when FBI agents arrested him, according to court documents, which also said he was considered a flight risk and classified as "armed and dangerous." An agent noted that when detained at the JW Marriott, Durst had a .38 revolver in his possession.

Wearing an orange jail suit, Durst appeared before Orleans Parish Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell Jr. on Monday morning. Asked by the judge if he waived his right to extradition to California, Durst, with hands shackled, said a simple “yes.”

Durst will face capital murder charges in the 2000 murder of his friend, Susan Berman. According to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, he will eligible for the death penalty. The  DA's release also says that the LAPD continues to investigate the murder.

— KPCC Staff

3:10 p.m.: Durst received fine in Texas last year; could be tried in Louisiana before California

Robert Durst's trip to California trip may be delayed by new charges in Louisiana, one of his lawyers said. A police report said the heir to a New York real estate fortune was carrying a revolver when FBI agents arrested him without incident at a New Orleans hotel. It wasn't immediately clear if Durst had the required gun permit. Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for the Orleans Parish district attorney's office, declined to comment.

Durst shuffled into a courtroom with his hands shackled at his waist, wearing sandals and an orange jumpsuit, and appeared to fall asleep before Magistrate Harry Cantrell struck his gavel down. Then he answered "yes" to questions about waiving extradition. The judge also agreed that Durst could get pain medication meanwhile; defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said Durst had undergone "neurosurgery."

Durst had been laying low at the Marriott hotel to avoid the growing attention from the documentary, his longtime lawyer, Chip Lewis, told The Associated Press.

This is not the first time in handcuffs for Durst, who has been estranged from family members who are together worth an estimated $4 billion. The Durst Organization manages a New York real estate empire including One World Trade Center.

Just last year, Durst was fined for urinating on the candy racks at a CVS pharmacy in Houston, where he keeps a townhouse. Lewis called that an "unfortunate medical mishap" and said Durst has Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that can involve behavioral problems.

Former prosecutor Jeanine Pirro believes it was her reopening of the cold case into Kathleen Durst's disappearance that provoked the murder of Berman, who had been Durst's confidante. And she said Durst's own words can now be used against him. 

- AP

10:40 a.m.: 'This won't be an easy case,' law professor says 

Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson spoke to KPCC’s Take Two show Monday morning about Robert Durst being arrested and charged in the 2000 murder of a writer and his friend and former spokesperson Susan Berman.

The arrest coincided with Sunday’s airing of an HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” In the documentary, Durst gave an extensive interview and audio also came to light in which Durst allegedly said to himself while his microphone was still on in the bathroom, that he “killed them all.”

“As for why now, I think the LA prosecutor thinks he has enough circumstantial evidence,” Levenson told Take Two’s Alex Cohen.

“I think it’s huge that media had a part. Sometimes people will say to the media what they won’t say to law enforcement.” 

Prosecution may be able to make a case with evidence including the opportunity to kill, motives, the series of deaths—his missing wife and dismembered neighbor—and the fleeing, hiding and false identity, said Levenson.

She added, “This won’t be an easy case,” but what was said on the documentary might be admissible as evidence if it is authentic and hasn’t been tampered with, as well as notes that documentarian Andrew Jarecki asked Durst about. Durst admits to writing one of the notes, but not the other, though both include a misspelling of the word “Beverly.” 

“Then they have a defendant that is willing to talk and that might be the most beneficial of all,” said Levenson. “DNA might be a possibility, we don’t know.” 

As for why Durst would agree to do a documentary about the murders, Levenson said:

You have to try to get into his head. If he did any of these murders he had a strange mentality… It looks like he’s craving attention, he’s now 71 years old and doesn’t have many more places to run. It’s not clear why he’s being reckless but he’s being reckless.

- KPCC staff

8:47 a.m.: Durst waives extradition, will return to California

Wealthy eccentric Robert Durst is waiving extradition and will return to Los Angeles to face a murder charge in the 2000 death of a writer and friend who acted as his spokeswoman.

Durst appeared before a judge in New Orleans on Monday.

He is an heir to a New York real estate fortune, and was the subject of an HBO series detailing his life of wealth and privilege as well as links to the deaths of his wife in New York and his friend in Los Angeles, Susan Berman.

Durst was arrested at J.W. Marriott hotel in New Orleans on Saturday on a murder warrant in the 2000 killing of Berman.

Durst was acquitted in the 2001 dismemberment death of Morris Black in Texas after claiming self-defense.

- AP

6:39 a.m.: Durst's comments 'chilling,' filmmaker says

The filmmaker behind HBO's "The Jinx" says he was stunned when he heard Robert Durst, a wealthy eccentric linked to two killings and his wife's disappearance, say he "killed them all" on the show's finale Sunday.

Andrew Jarecki tells ABC's "Good Morning America" that the recorded comment was "chilling" to hear.

Durst was arrested on a murder warrant just before Sunday evening's showing of "The Jinx," Jarecki's HBO documentary about the killings.

Filmmakers say Durst wore his microphone into a bathroom after being confronted about similarities in handwriting in a letter he wrote and another linked to one of the killings.

What followed was a bizarre rambling in which Durst said, apparently to himself, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all of course."

- AP

Jarecki says he didn't know the arrest was coming.

Durst's lawyer, Chip Lewis, says his client is innocent.

Timeline

A timeline of key events in the life of Robert Durst:

1982

Durst's wife, Kathleen, disappears. Durst has never been charged in the disappearance.

2000

The Westchester County New York district attorney reopens the investigation into the disappearance.

December 2000

Susan Berman, 55, a writer and friend who acted as Durst's spokeswoman after his wife disappeared, is shot once in the back of her head at her Los Angeles home shortly before investigators wanted to interview her about Kathleen Durst's disappearance.

October 2001

Durst, who had been disguising himself as a mute woman at one point, is arrested in Galveston, Texas, on murder charges in the death of a 71-year-old neighbor who was dismembered.

November 2003

Durst is acquitted in the 2001 dismemberment death of Morris Black after claiming he killed the man in self-defense.

2010

A Hollywood version of Durst's story, "All Good Things," starring Ryan Gosling, is released.

December 2014

Durst pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief for exposing himself and urinating on candy at CVS drug store in Houston.

Feb. 8, 2015

HBO airs the first episode of a six-week documentary, "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst." In it, Durst gives an extensive interview to the filmmaker.

March 14

Durst is arrested at a J.W. Marriott hotel in New Orleans.

March 15

Durst is ordered held without bond during a court appearance, the same day the documentary finale airs. In it, Durstwears his microphone into a bathroom and is heard saying: "What the hell did I do? Killed them all of course."

— AP

This story has been updated