Sixteen years after his friend and confidante was found murdered, Robert Durst appeared in court charged with killing her.
The eccentric New York real estate heir who has become a favorite tabloid subject because of his repeated brushes with the law, made his first appearance in court in Los Angeles on Monday at his arraignment in order to plead not guilty to the murder charge.
The 73 year old was assisted into the courtroom in his wheelchair and wearing a neck brace. “I do want to say here and now though I am not guilty. I did not kill Susan Berman,” said Durst who was wearing blue and white striped shirt and khaki pants.
Susan Berman was a writer whose father was a noted Las Vegas mafia figure. She had acted as an unofficial spokesman for Durst after he was named a suspect in the disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen.
Berman was shot execution style in her home in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles after New York authorities announced that they intended to interview Berman.
Before entering the packed courtroom, Durst’s lawyer Dick DeGuerin said that his client has been dealing with medical issues and is recovering from spinal fusion surgery which he underwent in Louisiana earlier this year. The millionaire is a cancer survivor and suffers from hydropencephalitis, a condition involving the swelling of the brain.
He was sentenced to seven years and one month in prison based on weapons charges in New Orleans stemming from a firearm that was discovered at his hotel when he was arrested by authorities for the Berman murder. Part of the deal was that he was allowed to be transferred to Los Angeles to face the murder charge. He was flown from Louisiana to Los Angeles on Friday.
The murder trial is likely to garner a great deal of attention from the press.