US tycoon pleads not guilty after 'doco confession'

  • 08/11/2016
Robert Durst (Reuters)
Robert Durst (Reuters)

US real estate heir Robert Durst has pleaded not guilty to murder.

It's alleged he killed a friend to stop her talking to the FBI about the disappearance of his wife, but he was only arrested after true-crime documentary The Jinx started airing in the US.

A frail-looking Durst was wheeled into a Los Angeles courtroom, where the 73-year-old pleaded not guilty to the execution-style murder of his former confidante, writer Susan Berman.

Officials say Durst killed Ms Berman back in 2000 at her Los Angeles-area home before New York authorities could interview her about the disappearance of the millionaire's first wife.

Kathleen Durst was in the process of divorcing him.

Authorities have been trying to get Durst back to California to face murder charges since his arrest on federal weapons charges in Louisiana in 2015.

Durst was arrested just before the finale of the HBO documentary The Jinx. The series examined the disappearance of Durst's first wife, Kathleen, and the 2001 dismemberment murder of his neighbour, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas.

Durst's missing wife was never found and he was acquitted of Mr Black's murder.

On the HBO finale, Durst was caught on an open microphone saying to himself: "What did I do? Killed them all of course."

Detectives claim handwriting experts linked Durst to letters that led to the discovery of Ms Berman's body.

At the time of his arrest, he was found at a New Orleans hotel room with a gun, mask, marijuana and more than US$40,000 in cash. 

Prosecutors say they will not seek the death penalty.

CBS News