Robert Durst denied bail in New Orleans, called a flight risk
A New Orleans judge ordered New York real estate scion Robert Durst held without bail Monday because he is a flight risk and danger to the community.
Prosecutor Mark Burton argued during a hearing that Durst, whose net worth is estimated at $100 million, made comments in the HBO series “The Jinx” that indicate he considers a $250,000 bail “chump change.” His next hearing is set for April 2.
FOR THE RECORD
A previous version of this post misidentified Jim O’Herne as James O’Hearne.
Durst’s attorney Dick DeGuerin said he did not expect the judge to set a bail amount during the hearing. But he said the hearing offered insight into details that were previously unavailable.
“We were able to get a lot of information that hadn’t been available to us,” he said. “I didn’t have any hope at all that the judge was going to set a bail bond, so I’m not surprised by that at all. We will get a preliminary hearing on April 2 so, all in all, I think this has been a very good day for us.”
Jim O’Herne, an investigator with the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office, said during the hearing that authorities found “a flesh-tone mask with salt-and-pepper hair,” two Florida travel books, four bags of what was believed to be marijuana and a map folded to show New Orleans, Florida and Cuba inside Durst’s hotel room.
The investigator said authorities had requested a warrant to monitor Durst’s phone before his arrest March 14 in New Orleans and used that to track him.
Durst is charged with murder in connection with the 2000 shooting of his friend Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home.
With the warrant, detectives followed Durst, who had five suitcases and had left his car and Houston apartment unlocked and headed east on Interstate 10 to Beaumont, Tex., in a car that wasn’t registered to him. Durst later called his voicemail from his New Orleans hotel room.
Dozens of reporters packed the courtroom as Durst sat in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. His head was shaved, revealing a scar stretching down the top of his head.
Former Westchester County Dist. Atty. Jeanine Pirro, who opened an investigation in 2000 into the disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathleen, also sat in the front row.
Her presence caused a brief disturbance in court after DeGuerin asked the judge to dismiss Pirro, a Fox News Channel host, from the courtroom because he planned to call her as a potential witness in the case. When a prosecutor and Pirro’s attorney protested, she was allowed to return.
Pirro, who as a district attorney reopened the investigation into Kathleen Durst’s disappearance, said in an interview that DeGuerin tried to have her kicked out of the courtroom because he knows she pursued justice for Durst’s victims.
“DeGuerin has an emotional reaction to me. Did I kick [Durst’s] behind in 2000 to start all this? You bet, yeah,” she said. “In my opinion, he is evil.”
Pirro said that under Louisiana law, DeGuerin would have had to subpoena her and give her 10 days’ notice if he wanted to call her as a witness.
“He is ignoring the law and the Constitution that protects the rights of a member of the press,” she said.
During the hearing, DeGuerin said a Los Angeles detective and prosecutor “interrogated” Durst at Orleans Parish Jail on Sunday morning without counsel -- even after Durst had contacted his attorneys late Saturday. Authorities, he argued, knew Durst had contacted his attorneys.
Durst is being held at a medical facility at a state prison in St. Gabriel, La., about an hour’s drive from New Orleans.
In New Orleans, Durst is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and illegally carrying a weapon with a controlled substance. According to court records, he was found with a .38 revolver and about 5 ounces of marijuana after his arrest.
Durst is now awaiting extradition on the California warrant. He is accused of the execution-style killing of Berman, who was shot once in the head.
At the time, New York authorities were planning to interview Berman about what she knew about the 1982 disappearance of Kathleen Durst.
Durst is charged with laying in wait and killing Berman because she was a witness to a crime. He 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.
Times staff writer Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.
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