NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst has been formally charged by a federal grand jury with illegally possessing a handgun, a development likely to make it even more difficult for his attorneys to get him to California to face a murder charge.
The charge in Friday's indictment says Durst violated the federal gun-control act because he was in possession of a firearm after being convicted of earlier felonies. The move came as no surprise: A federal criminal complaint outlining the allegation had been filed earlier this week.
Durst, whose family runs 1 World Trade Center in New York, now stands charged with offenses in three jurisdictions in two states. In Los Angeles, he is charged with murder in the 2000 slaying of his friend Susan Berman, 55. In New Orleans, where he was taken into custody at a hotel last month, he faces weapons charges in both state and federal courts.
Durst's attorneys did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
"I feel like we're being tag-teamed," attorney Dick DeGuerin said Thursday, when a state court hearing was followed hours later by a conference in federal court.
Durst waived extradition to California as soon as he could. His attorneys say he just wants to deal with the allegations that he killed Berman to keep her from talking to investigators looking into the disappearance of his wife in 1982.
State and federal prosecutors in New Orleans could ask judges to let their cases ride while the Los Angeles case goes forward, said Andrea Armstrong, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.
But the chance that Durst will go to California any time soon "would certainly seem less likely now that there are two different courts involved," she said.
Durst already is charged as a felon possessing a handgun in Louisiana. Armstrong said that, without reading both laws, she couldn't tell whether that would be double jeopardy.
"I'd have to look at the statutes to see if there's a unique element to each," she said.