Robert Durst denied bail in murder case

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-23 17:30:12-04

(CNN) — A Louisiana judge ruled Monday that Robert Durst, the millionaire real estate heir charged with first-degree murder, will be held without bail.

When FBI agents arrested Durst last week at a New Orleans hotel, according to court documents, he had a loaded .38-caliber revolver, 5 ounces of marijuana, his passport and birth certificate, a neck-to-head latex mask with salt-and-pepper hair attached and more than $40,000 cash, mostly in $100 bills.

Dick DeGuerin, a Texas attorney who was cleared last week to represent Durst in Louisiana, held a seconds-long news conference after Monday’s hearing, saying he had no hope for bail so the judge’s decision was not surprising.

The legal team, however, did obtain “a lot of information,” he said, and a preliminary hearing was set for April 2.

“All in all, I think this has been a very good day for us,” he said on the courthouse steps. He walked off without elaborating.

Durst, who appeared in court wearing an orange prison uniform and shackles, was arrested last week after federal agents tracked his cell phone, according to information presented in court Monday. Authorities knew he had left his hometown of Houston when his mobile phone pinged a tower 85 miles east, in Beaumont, Texas.

Authorities tracked him to a hotel after he called his voice mail from a Marriott in New Orleans.

He was booked on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance, court documents said.

Durst, the subject of HBO’s true-crime documentary “The Jinx,” was placed on suicide watch, according to police, but DeGuerin said last week that Durst needed to be in a hospital setting, not because of the possibility of suicide, but because he has serious medical conditions.

The 71-year-old is suffering from hydrocephalus, which has required brain surgery in the past, DeGuerin said. Doctors implanted a stent on the right side of his head, the attorney said last week.

Durst appeared in court Monday with his head shaved, the stent prominent.

The Los Angeles County district attorney filed a first-degree murder charge against Durst last week. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors accuse Durst of “lying in wait” and killing Susan Berman, a crime writer and his longtime confidante, because she “was a witness to a crime.”

Berman was shot in the head in her Beverly Hills, California, home in December 2000, shortly before investigators were set to speak with her about the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst.

Durst has long maintained he had nothing to do with Berman’s death or his wife’s disappearance.

He’s being held on drug and weapons charges in Louisiana as he awaits extradition to Los Angeles to face the murder charge.

Durst, whose real estate developer family is among New York’s wealthiest, has a net worth of about $100 million and had been withdrawing large sums of money from various bank accounts, including daily withdrawals of $9,000 over 35 days since October, court documents said.

It’s not the first time he’s been accused of murder. He admitted to killing and dismembering his neighbor in a 2003 trial, but he was acquitted after arguing he acted in self-defense.