Wealthy real estate scion Robert Durst, whose ties to several slayings were chronicled last year in the HBO documentary “The Jinx,” appeared in court on Wednesday, where his attorney and a prosecutor sparred over the admissibility of documents seized in a murder case against him in Los Angeles.
Durst, 73, is charged with fatally shooting writer and longtime confidante Susan Berman in December 2000. Prosecutors say he killed her because of what she knew about the death of Durst’s wife in New York two decades earlier.
Durst, who appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court in a wheelchair wearing a blue shirt and glasses, pleaded not guilty last month to first-degree murder in the Berman case.
At issue on Wednesday was a request by prosecutors that an independent expert be appointed to examine crates of Durst-related documents confiscated by investigators and determine which papers should be excluded as material protected under attorney-client privilege.
Judge Mark Windham sided with prosecutors in deciding to appoint a special master to examine the confiscated documents.
Windham also said he would hold a hearing on the question of whether Durst waived his right to attorney-client privilege over materials seized from Durst’s friend in New York State.
Berman, 55, was found dead in her Los Angeles home, reportedly shot execution style, not long after police in New York reopened their investigation into the 1982 disappearance and presumed killing of Durst’s wife, Kathleen.
Durst was questioned but never charged in that probe.
The Berman case is likely to revive discussions not only about the investigation of his wife’s disappearance but his 2003 acquittal by a jury in the killing and dismemberment of a Texas neighbor two years before.
Durst was formally charged with the Berman murder a day after HBO aired the final episode of “The Jinx,” in which Durst was recorded muttering to himself off-camera: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst told authorities after his arrest that he smoked marijuana daily and was high on methamphetamine during his appearance on “The Jinx,” according to court records.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Steve Orlofsky)