Robert Durst's attorneys ask judge to release him for extradition to California

Lawyers seek Robert Durst's release in Louisiana for extradition to California

Attorneys for embattled real estate millionaire Robert Durst have asked a judge to find that there was no probable cause for authorities to pursue charges in Louisiana and that they should now release him for extradition to California.

In court paperwork filed Friday, Durst’s attorneys allege that Louisiana officials failed to establish probable cause to indict Durst at his preliminary hearing Thursday, presenting an arrest warrant but calling no witnesses in a “misguided attempt to conceal the facts from the court, the defendant, and the public.”

At the hearing, Asst. Orleans Parish Dist. Atty. Mark Burton repeatedly challenged Durst’s defense team to call witnesses themselves other than the three law enforcement officials who stopped and arrested their client. The trio -- two FBI agents and a Louisiana state trooper -- had been subpoenaed by the defense, but succeeded in delaying their appearance until next week.

When Durst, 71, was stopped by the FBI agents at a Canal Street hotel March 14 on a California warrant in connection with the 2000 slaying of Los Angeles author Susan Berman, they found a .38 revolver and marijuana in his room. The trooper charged him with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and possessing a firearm with a controlled substance.

Durst waived extradition to California, but Louisiana prosecutors are bent on pursuing the state charges.

His lead attorney, Houston-based Dick DeGuerin, helped Durst persuade a jury to acquit him of murder charges in Galveston in 2003 after he was accused of killing and dismembering his neighbor.

DeGuerin has made no secret of his eagerness to get his client extradited so he can address the latest murder charge in Los Angeles.

In the latest filing, Durst’s attorneys noted that the Louisiana case has “dragged on for three weeks” and asked Orleans Criminal District Court Magistrate Harry Cantrell Jr. to “put an end to these tortured proceedings” and “release Mr. Durst for extradition to California.”

Durst is being held without bond in a jail medical unit at a state prison about 70 miles west of New Orleans, the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, La.

He is due back before Cantrell for a continuation of his preliminary hearing on Thursday.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

Twitter: @mollyhf

 

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