Updated: Monday, March 16, 6:25 p.m.
Los Angeles County prosecutors filed a murder charge on Monday against real estate heir Robert Durst in the 2000 killing of his friend Susan Berman. Durst, who was the subject of the HBO documentary series “The Jinx,” made a shocking revelation on the series finale a day earlier: “There it is. You’re caught … What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst, 71, is charged with one count of first-degree murder with special circumstances (murder of a witness and lying in wait, as well as weapons allegations). The capital murder charge makes Durst eligible for the death penalty.
The FBI arrested Durst on Saturday in New Orleans, and he is being held without bail. On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Durst was rebooked in the Orleans Parish Jail under two new charges: convicted felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance (a small amount of marijuana).
Prosecutors have worked closely with the Los Angeles Police Department investigating the cold case murder of Berman, who died on or about Dec. 23, 2000. Her body was discovered the following day, Christmas Eve, in her Benedict Canyon home.
On Monday, Durst waived extradition at his appearance in a New Orleans court and will be sent to Los Angeles at a future date for arraignment.
Late Monday evening, the Superior Court for the State of California for the County of Los Angeles issued the Felony Complaint for Extradition, which alleges that “Susan Berman was a witness to a crime and was intentionally killed because of that fact,” and that “the defendant intentionally killed the victim by means of lying in wait … [and] personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, a handgun, which caused great bodily injury and death to Susan Berman.”
On Sunday, HBO aired “The Jinx” series finale, during which Durst can be heard mumbling what sounds like a confession to three murders while using the bathroom with a live microphone attached to him.
Director and producer Andrew Jarecki said on Monday that the timing of Durst’s arrest was unrelated to the audio clip featured in the finale, but he had been in contact with investigators throughout the production, and told the authorities he felt Durst should be arrested.
“We’re not in charge of the arrest timing, and we had no idea of the arrest timing,” Jarecki said during a Monday “Good Morning America” interview.
Jarecki also spoke with “CBS This Morning” before the director and fellow filmmaker Marc Smerling stopped talking to press and issued the statement, “Given that we are likely to be called as witnesses in any case law enforcement may decide to bring against Robert Durst, it is not appropriate for us to comment further on these pending matters.”
Durst was also charged in the 2001 shooting death and dismemberment of Morris Black — Durst’s neighbor in Galveston, Texas — but he claimed self defense and was later acquitted. It is also suspected that Durst was responsible for the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen.
“The Jinx” led the Los Angeles district attorney to re-open the investigation into Berman’s death last week; however, LAPD officials denied that the arrest was related to the finale.
“We based our actions based on the investigation and the evidence,” LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “We didn’t base anything we did on the HBO series. The arrest was made as a result of the investigative efforts and at a time that we believe it was needed.”
HBO said in a statement, “We simply cannot say enough about the brilliant job that Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling did in producing ‘The Jinx.’ Years in the making, their thorough research and dogged reporting reignited interest in Robert Durst’s story with the public and law enforcement.”