| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Feb 15 Robert Durst, the real
estate scion tied to several slayings explored in HBO's series
"The Jinx," returned to a Los Angeles courtroom on Wednesday to
face a prosecution witness whose identity was being kept secret
until taking the stand.
Durst, 73, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal
shooting of a writer and longtime confidante of his, Susan
Berman, in December 2000, and prosecutors say the secret witness
fears his or her life may be put in danger by testifying.
Berman was found slain execution-style in her Los Angeles
home not long after police in New York had reopened an
investigation into the disappearance and presumed killing of
Durst's spouse, Kathleen, two decades earlier.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles say they suspect Durst killed
Berman, 55, because of what she knew about his wife's unsolved
demise in 1982.
The judge has given approval for Wednesday's witness to
testify well in advance of the actual trial, with questioning
and cross-examination by both sides videotaped and preserved in
the event anything should prevent the person from appearing in
An 85-year-old retired dean of the New York City medical
school attended by Durst's wife before she vanished was
permitted to testify under similar conditions on Tuesday due to
his advanced age.
Durst has pleaded not guilty in the murder case and said he
had nothing to do with the fate of either woman. He was
questioned in the probe of his wife's disappearance but has not
been charged, and her body has never been found.
His ties to both cases, and his 2003 acquittal in the
killing and dismemberment of a Texas neighbor, were chronicled
in the popular multi-part HBO documentary "The Jinx" last year.
Durst was present again for Wednesday's hearing, walking
haltingly into court wearing khaki pants, a light-blue collared
shirt and black-rimmed glasses. He stopped briefly to look over
the audience of reporters and spectators in the room.
Durst was formally charged with the Berman killing a day
after HBO aired the final episode of its series, 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.
Although Durst has long been estranged from his New York
family and their significant real estate holdings, prosecutors
have put his estimated net worth at some $100 million.
(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)