LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — New York real estate scion Robert Durst pleaded guilty Wednesday in New Orleans to a gun charge, clearing the way for his extradition to Los Angeles to face murder charges.
In December, Los Angeles County prosecutors and attorneys for Durst jointly filed an agreement calling on the prosecution to use its “best efforts and all available legal means” to secure his presence in a Los Angeles County courtroom for arraignment by Aug. 18, once he is sentenced in the federal court case in Louisiana.
The agreement – signed by Durst, four of his attorneys and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys John Lewin and Habib Bailan – was only binding if a plea agreement was reached in the federal case against Durst, in which he was indicted for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Durst, 72, was charged last March 16 with capital murder in the shooting death of his close friend, Susan Berman, who was killed on or about Dec. 23, 2000. Her body was found on Christmas Eve in her Benedict Canyon home.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty.
Authorities suspect Durst killed Berman because prosecutors in New York’s Westchester County were about to interview her about the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen “Kathie” McCormack Durst, who was in the process of divorcing him. Durst’s arrest in Berman’s killing came hours before the airing of the final episode of the HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and deaths of Robert Durst,” which examined the disappearance of his wife in 1982, Berman’s execution-style killing and the killing of Black.
Durst has admitted to killing and dismembering Morris Black, a man who lived across from him in Galveston, Texas, where Durst fled while authorities were trying to make a case against him in both killings.
He went on trial for Black’s death in 2003 — after a nationwide manhunt located him in Pennsylvania — but was acquitted by a jury that deemed Black’s killing was an act of self-defense.
Durst has been long estranged from his real-estate-rich family, which is best known for a series of New York City skyscrapers — including an investment in the World Trade Center. Durst split with the family when his younger brother was placed in charge of the family business, leading to a drawn-out legal battle.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)