Richard DeGuerin, Houston-based attorney for jailed New York real estate scion Robert Durst, said Sunday that a Los Angeles prosecutor met with his client in Louisiana without his permission before he arrived to represent him.
Durst was arrested March 14 while staying under a fake name at the J.W. Marriott hotel near New Orleans' French Quarter. He was later charged with the December 2000 murder of his confidant, Susan Berman, in her Benedict Canyon home.
DeGuerin said he arrived in Louisiana the next day, and ensured that Orleans Parish sheriff's officials who had Durst in custody cleared all of his visitors with the defense team first.
"We put that in place as soon as I could but that had already occurred," DeGuerin said of the meeting.
The Los Angeles prosecutor talked to Durst for three hours, he said.
"They put a stop to everything when I got there," DeGuerin said.
He declined to identify the prosecutor, to discuss what he talked to Durst about or "characterize" the encounter.
"We're going to try to air that in court on Monday," DeGuerin told The Times on his way to the airport, "I'm not sure we're going to be able to because of procedures in Louisiana...it's going to have to be litigated in court."
Durst is due in court in New Orleans on Monday for a bond hearing on state charges after he was found in possession of a revolver and marijuana when he was arrested on the California warrant. He is now awaiting extradition.
DeGuerin said he is eager to get Durst extradited.
"I don't like the delay. We want to get to California and start what already will be a lengthy process of discovery and disclosures," he said, adding, "Major cases in California take a long time."
"New Orleans has exercised their jurisdiction," he said, and "they're taking their time. I don't like it, but they have that right."
DeGuerin said he had not met with his client since Thursday but that Durst is doing well where he is being held, at a medical unit run by the Sheriff's Office at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, La.
"They have excellent medical facilities out there," DeGuerin said.
"He will remain in the medical facility throughout his stay in Louisiana even after he's off suicide watch, which I expect will be soon," he said - possibly as soon as Sunday.
Durst is accused of the execution-style killing of Berman, who was shot once in the head. At the time Berman was killed, New York authorities were planning to interview her to learn what she knew about the 1982 disappearance of Durst's first wife, Kathleen.
The charges include allegations that Durst lay in wait and killed Berman because she was a witness to a crime. Durst could face the death penalty if he is found guilty.
Los Angeles police detectives said two handwriting experts have linked Durst to an anonymous letter alerting authorities to a “cadaver” at Berman’s home.