New York real estate scion on trial for trespassing

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 10, 2014 11:38 AM

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Real estate heir Robert Durst appeared in a New York courtroom on Wednesday on charges of trespassing on property owned by his estranged family.

Durst, who has been questioned about but never charged with several mysterious deaths and disappearances, is accused of violating a restraining order to keep away from relatives, including his brother, Durst Organization President Douglas Durst, in June 2013.

"Douglas set me up and caught me," Durst, 71, told reporters outside Manhattan's criminal court.

Durst, who was tried and acquitted in Texas of the 2001 murder of a neighbor, called the New York trespassing trial "tedious." Defense lawyers said he would not testify.

"This is the most boring trial I've ever been to," said Durst, looking frail and wearing a gray striped suit and black sports boots.

The restraining order is one of 13 aimed at keeping him away from relatives.

The Durst Organization oversees the lease of One World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.

Durst is accused of approaching and peering into security cameras of three residential properties his family owns in New York's midtown Manhattan and walking up the exterior stairs of one of them.

This is the latest brush with the law for Durst, who was questioned about but not charged with the disappearance of his wife in 1982 and the murder of a long-time friend in 2000. He was later found living in Texas disguised as a mute woman.

In his Texas trial, Durst admitted to killing and butchering his neighbor but a jury acquitted him of homicide after he argued it was an accidental shooting in self-defense. He was jailed for about three years for related minor charges.

His life inspired the 2010 Hollywood movie "All Good Things" and the documentary "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst," due to air in February on cable network HBO.

It has been an unlikely journey for a man born into the uppermost echelons of society. The Durst Organization is responsible for a good portion of the city's skyline - "13 million square feet of premiere Manhattan office towers," according to company press releases.

Durst, who now lives in Texas after getting about $65 million from the settlement of a lawsuit he brought against family trusts, most recently was charged with urinating on a drugstore candy rack in Houston.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Lisa Von Ahn and Sandra Maler)