NEW ORLEANS — The attorney for accused murderer and real estate scion Robert Durst proclaimed his client's innocence after a court hearing Tuesday morning.
"Bob Durst did not kill Susan Berman. He doesn't know who did," Dick DeGuerin told reporters outside the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
The 71-year-old is awaiting extradition to Los Angeles to face a first-degree murder charge in the death of Berman, his longtime confidant who was found murdered in her Beverly Hills home 15 years ago.
The case has gained nationwide attention after HBO last month began airing a documentary series about Durst called "The Jinx." The episodes raised questions about Durst's involvement in the mysterious disappearance of his first wife in Westchester County, New York, in 1982 and chronicled his acquittal in the dismemberment death of his neighbor in Galveston, Texas, in 2001.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Durst's arrest in a New Orleans hotel on Saturday came a day before the finale of the HBO series aired. DeGuerin said he is challenging the warrant and Durst's arrest, which he said was "not based on facts — it's based on ratings."
A New Orleans prosecutor earlier told the judge that Durst was arrested when members of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force encountered him in the lobby of the J.W. Marriott hotel on Canal Street. Det. Michael Whelen applied for a search warrant on Sunday, and a search turned up about five ounces of marijuana and a .38 caliber revolver in Durst's hotel room, he said. Durst was charged with felony weapons and drug offenses.
The prosecution filed a motion for temporary detention for a period of five days, excluding weekends, before a bail hearing is held. The hearing is set for 11 a.m. ET Monday, which means the eccentric heir of the Durst family fortune isn't going anywhere this week.
DeGuerin asked the judge in Louisiana to expedite the local case so that they can focus on the murder charge. "We want to get to California as quickly as we can, so we can get into a court of law and try this case where it needs to be tried," Durst's longtime attorney told reporters. "We will contest the facts there and we'll try to contest them here."
Durst, who also appeared in court Monday, was again being placed in a separate holding cell. During Tuesday's hearing, he stared forward with little expression, shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit. When he was led out, he had to be helped up by a sheriff's deputy.
— with Erik Ortiz