LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Authorities moved quickly to arrest wealthy real estate scion Robert Durst last year because they feared he would flee after his confession to multiple killings was aired in the chilling HBO documentary “The Jinx,” Los Angeles prosecutors said.
Prosecutors made the disclosure in court papers filed on Monday ahead of a hearing Durst is scheduled to attend on Wednesday in Los Angeles, where he has been charged with the 2000 murder of writer Susan Berman.
Durst, 73, who has pleaded not guilty, is charged with shooting Berman, his longtime friend, in Los Angeles because of what she might have known about the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen, in 1982 when the Dursts lived in New York City.
The case is likely to revive discussions not only about the investigation of Durst in his wife’s disappearance, which remains unresolved, but also his 2003 acquittal by a jury in the killing of his Texas neighbour two years before.
Durst was arrested on suspicion of Berman’s murder at a New Orleans hotel on March 14, 2015 - one day before the airing of the final episode of “The Jinx.”
In that last episode, Durst was presented with evidence that his handwriting appeared to match that of Berman’s likely killer. His voice was captured on a microphone after the interview, muttering off-camera: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Prosecutors in the court papers filed on Monday said Durst “confessed to killing multiple people” with those comments and they moved fast to have him arrested for Berman’s slaying because they feared he would run.
“‘The Jinx‘s’ final episode ... was about to become public and defendant (Durst) was about to hear for the first time this extremely damning evidence,” prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors have not said how they knew what Durst would say in the episode.
Durst told authorities in Louisiana shortly after his arrest that for as long as he could remember he smoked marijuana daily and was high on methamphetamine when he talked to “The Jinx” filmmakers, according to a transcript filed in court on Friday.
Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said in a telephone interview prosecutors overstepped by releasing Durst’s jailhouse interview with law enforcement, because it could taint potential jurors.
“This case needs to be tried in front of a jury that hasn’t already formed an opinion,” DeGuerin said.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott