New Arraignment On Weapons Charge For Real Estate Heir Durst In New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A real estate heir facing a murder charge in California is scheduled for a new arraignment on a weapons charge in New Orleans.

         A U.S. District Court docket entry Monday stated that Robert Durst has a change of plea hearing Dec. 17. A pre-sentence report will be made "after the defendant has entered a guilty plea," according to a note at the end of an attached arraignment notice.

         A charge of illegally possessing a .38-caliber revolver after being convicted of a felony is keeping Durst, 77, jailed in Louisiana even though he has waived extradition to California, where he's charged with murder in the death of his friend and onetime spokeswoman Susan Berman.

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         "Bob Durst did not kill Susan Berman and doesn't know who did," defense attorney Richard DeGuerin wrote in a news release. "From the time of his arrest in New Orleans in March, Bob and his legal team have been eager to get to California so he will finally have the opportunity to prove his innocence. We hope to resolve all other charges right away so that Bob can be transferred to California for trial."

         He wouldn't say whether Durst will plead guilty, or on what charge he will be arraigned next month.

         "Rearraignment means guilty plea" and implies a plea deal, said Chick Foret, a New Orleans-area criminal defense attorney who is not involved in the case. "We have no way of knowing what he's going to plead guilty to."

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         Foret said a guilty plea would help Durst because he probably could serve his federal sentence in California while awaiting trial there.

         Durst was arrested in March in the early hours of the day HBO broadcast the finale of a six-part documentary about him, the disappearance of his first wife in 1982, Berman's death and the death and dismemberment of a neighbor in Galveston in 2001.

         Prosecutors say the revolver was in the room at the J.W. Marriott where Durst was staying under an assumed name.

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         – by AP Reporter Janet McConnaughey



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