Millionaire Real Estate Heir Durst Indicted On Louisiana Firearm Charges

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst was indicted Wednesday on the two weapons charges that have kept him in New Orleans even though his lawyers say he wants to go to Los Angeles as soon as possible to face a murder charge there.

         A grand jury charged Durst with possession of a firearm by a felon and with possession of both a firearm and an illegal drug: 5 ounces of marijuana, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Bowman, spokesman for the district attorney.

         Durst's attorneys could not be immediately reached for comment. They have said the weapons arrest was illegal, partly because FBI agents searched Durst's hotel room before his arrest and without a search warrant.

         The weapons arrest has kept Durst in New Orleans even though he has waived extradition to Los Angeles, where he's charged in the December 2000 death of his longtime friend Susan Berman. Attorney Billy Gibbens told Magistrate Harry Cantrell on Tuesday that Durst would be willing to pay the transportation costs to get him to California.

         Until his indictment Wednesday, Durst had been arrested but not formally charged in connection with the .38-caliber revolver authorities say was found in his room at the J.W. Marriott, where he was staying under an assumed name.

         According to court testimony, an FBI agent recognized Durst in a New Orleans hotel March 14 and escorted him to his hotel room. Durst was arrested early March 15 on the Los Angeles warrant and arrested separately on the weapons charges the next day.

         A hearing in the New Orleans case had been scheduled for Thursday before a magistrate. However, with the indictment, the case is now before Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich, according to the clerk of court's office.

         Durst's lawyers say the arrest in New Orleans was timed to coincide with the final episode of "The Jinx," an HBO documentary about Durst. It described the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen, in 1982 from New York; the Los Angeles shooting of Susan Berman, 55, in 2000; and the death and dismemberment of a Texas neighbor in 2001. Durst said he killed Morris Black in self-defense, and jurors acquitted him.

         Durst, who will turn 72 Sunday, was in court Tuesday, hands shackled in padded cuffs. A deputy had to help him out of his armchair.

         – by AP Reporters Janet McConnaughey and Kevin McGill




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