IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Robert Durst's Lawyer: Feds, Locals Battling for 'First Crack'

The millionaire's attorney claims his client was indicted on federal charges so FBI agents would not have to be grilled in state court.
Get more newsLiveon
/ Source: NBC News

The lawyer for millionaire real-estate scion Robert Durst said his client is in the middle of a tug-of-war between the feds and local authorities.

Durst, 71, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for having a gun even though he's a convicted felon. He had already been hit with a similar charge by Louisiana police.

"It looks like there will be a struggle between the Louisiana State and Federal authorities over who gets the first crack at Bob Durst," his attorney, Dick DeGuerin said in a statement to NBC News.

"My own opinion is that the Feds don't want to subject their FBI agents to our rigorous cross examination in State court, but they will eventually have to testify, whether in State or Federal court, about their illegal search of Bob's room at the J.W. Marriott."

FBI agents seized a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson and some pot from Durst's New Orleans hotel room when they arrested him for the 2000 murder of his confidant, Susan Berman on a warrant out of Los Angeles.

His defense team has argued the agents didn't have a search warrant and the gun and drug charge should be tossed. FBI agents said in court papers that Durst told them where to find the gun and they discovered the pot while doing an inventory of his belongings with his permission.

DeGuerin wants to bring Durst back to California, where prosecutors may have a tougher time proving the murder rap than they would making a gun case in Louisiana, legal experts say.

Durst was arrested while HBO was in the middle of airing "The Jinx," a documentary series about the disappearance of Durst's first wife, the Berman murder, and the dismemberment of an elderly Texas neighbor.

The real-estate heir was acquitted of murdering the Texas man after he claimed he killed him and chopped him up in self-defense.

In 2004, he pleaded guilty to having a gun while he was a fugitive from the Texas charge in exchange for a nine-month sentence. That conviction allowed the feds to hit him with a charge that carries up to 10 years in prison for the Louisiana pistol, because felons are not allowed to have firearms.

While DeGuerin suggests the feds and state authorities are battling for control of the case, legal analyst Donald 'Chick" Foret told NBC News he has no doubt the two teams are working together to nail Durst.

He predicted that prosecutors would win the right to keep the gun as evidence in either jurisdiction, but that federal court gives them an edge.

"It is rare in state court for a motion to suppress [evidence] to be granted," Foret said last week. "I have seen even fewer motions to suppress granted in federal court."