Millionaire Durst deemed suicide risk, moved to other prison
Mar. 18, 2015
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Robert Durst, the millionaire real estate heir who has been charged with murder, was moved from a jail to a prison with a mental health unit because he is considered a suicide risk, officials said Wednesday.
Durst, 71, is in custody in Louisiana on gun charges while awaiting a transfer to Los Angeles to face murder charges in the death of his friend Susan Berman 15 years ago.
His arrest this weekend came shortly before the finale of an HBO television series about his links to the slaying of three people, including Berman. In the dramatic final episode, Durst mutters that he "killed them all," but authorities have said his arrest was based on other evidence, not those words.
A city magistrate had ordered that Durst remain in the New Orleans jail. But the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office appealed that order, and an appeals court ruled in favor of the sheriff on Tuesday.
He moved that night to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) from New Orleans, according to the sheriff's office.
A three-judge panel ruled that the sheriff has sole authority to decide where to house inmates needing mental health treatment.
On Tuesday, seven officers spent hours searching Durst's Houston home — a condominium in a 17-story building in a posh neighborhood. They carried away two white cardboard document boxes.
But Durst's attorney said he would be surprised if any evidence against his client were found.
Dick DeGuerin called the search "a publicity stunt" by a California prosecutor looking to pin the killing of Durst's friend on his client.
"I don't know what they could be looking for 15 years after Susan Berman was killed 1,500 miles away," DeGuerin said. "I would really be surprised if they found anything of any evidentiary value."
But Durst himself may have pointed to his Houston condo, in a recording made while talking to himself in a bathroom immediately after a tense interview with the makers of the documentary about his life.
Just before saying he "killed them all," he says "I don't know what's in the house!"
In the tape, filmed in a bathroom, Durst talks to himself in short bursts of whispers, apparently contemplating his arrest. The filmmakers say they shared the tape with police months ago.
Durst also has been suspected — but never charged — in the disappearance of his first wife in New York. In 2003, he was acquitted of murder in a dismemberment death in Texas.
Durst could face the death penalty if convicted of killing Berman, the daughter of a prominent Las Vegas mobster, under special circumstances that allege he ambushed her and murdered a witness to a crime.
A law enforcement official said his arrest on the murder charge was based on words he wrote in a letter to Berman a year before her killing, which match one that pointed police to her body.
That's the key new evidence that revived the cold case, the official told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
DeGuerin disagreed: "This is a case that the L.A. D.A. has issued a warrant based on a television program, a (expletive) docudrama."