Fugitive real estate heir Robert Durst pleads guilty to weapon charge

ByJANET McCONNAUGHEY Associated Press AP logo
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Robert Durst is transported from Orleans Parish Criminal District Court to the Orleans Parish Prison after his arraignment in New Orleans, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert-WPVI

NEW ORLEANS -- A fugitive New York real estate heir pleaded guilty in Louisiana on Thursday to a weapons charge and has agreed to a sentence of seven years and one month imprisonment.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said Wednesday that he would provisionally accept the plea and make a final decision after he receives a pre-sentencing report expected in two weeks.

Durst's plea was in connection with a charge of illegally carrying a .38-caliber revolver after being convicted of a felony. The charge has kept him in Louisiana.

The acceptance of the deal is another step toward Durst's extradition to California, where he is wanted in the death of a friend in 2000.

Durst has waived extradition and says he wants to go to California to prove his innocence in the death of Susan Berman. However, he won't immediately be sent to California until at least the sentencing. If the judge accepts the sentence, then it is up to the Bureau of Prisons to decide where Durst will serve it.

"Bob Durst didn't kill Susan Berman and doesn't know who did, and he's eager to go to trial and prove it," attorney Richard DeGuerin wrote in an email Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. attorney Michael McMahon said the plea bargain will be nullified if the judge gives Durst a different sentence. The maximum penalty that Robert Durst could have faced was 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

An estranged member of the wealthy New York real estate family that runs 1 World Trade Center, he's accused of killing Berman to keep her from talking to New York prosecutors about the disappearance of Durst's first wife, Kathleen, in 1982.

FBI agents tracked him to a New Orleans hotel on the eve of the finale of "The Jinx," HBO's six-part documentary about Durst, his wife's disappearance, Berman's death and the death and dismemberment of Durst's neighbor Morris Black in 2001. He was formally arrested early on the day of the broadcast.