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Robert Durst’s attorneys are hoping his murder trial won’t resume next week as expected after filing an emergency motion Thursday revealing the 78-year-old has untreated bladder cancer and a “myriad” of other health issues.
“I am very concerned he can’t survive a trial,” Durst’s attorney Dick DeGuerin told Oxygen.com.
Durst, heir to a real estate empire and focus of the HBO true crime documentary “The Jinx,” is on trial for killing his best friend, Susan Berman, in her Beverly Hills home more than two decades ago, but the trial was initially suspended after just a few days of testimony in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is scheduled to resume Monday, however, Durst’s attorneys are now arguing in the emergency motion that his health is rapidly deteriorating and they've requested an “indefinite continuance” in the case.
“As your Honorable Court is aware, a criminal trial is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining,” they state in motion, obtained by Oxygen.com. “It is grueling for a healthy individual, let alone a 78-year-old man with serious health conditions, including bladder cancer, prior esophageal cancer, malnutrition, coronary artery disease with drug eluting stents, atrial fibrillation, and chronic kidney disease.”
In addition to a trial delay, Durst’s attorneys have also requested that he be released on bail to a medical facility where he can be treated and put forth multiple measures to ensure Durst’s cooperation including GPS monitoring, a high bail amount, and security paid for by Durst himself.
They argued that the measures “will ensure that Mr. Durst is not a risk of flight and he is not a danger to the community.”
As part of the motion, defense attorneys also included a medical report from Dr. Keith Klein, an attending physician in the Division of Nephrology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who evaluated Durst on May 7.
“It is my opinion that Mr. Durst cannot undergo a trial without serious risk to his health, and possibly to his life,” Klein said, adding that if Durst was his patient he would “urgently hospitalize him” to get medical care for a slew of health problems.
Durst’s attorneys have argued that his poor health has also impacted his own ability to assist in trial preparations and to attend a lengthy courtroom trial.
“As set forth in Dr. Klein’s report, given his medical conditions and his impaired and diminished cognitive abilities, Mr. Durst does not have the physical ability and stamina to undergo the rigorous process of preparing for and attending the continuation of the trial,” the motion argues, saying Durst cannot maintain attention while sitting for more than an hour at most.
Durst is accused of shooting Berman in the head on December 23, 2000, according to CNN. Authorities believe he killed her to keep her from revealing what she knew about the disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack, who mysteriously vanished in 1982.
The case has garnered significant public attention, particularly after it was profiled in “The Jinx,” a six-part docu-series, in 2015.
In the explosive final moments of the series, filmmakers captured audio of Durst talking to himself about the deaths in the bathroom as his microphone was still recording.
“There it is. You’re caught,” he said, before muttering “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst has pleaded not guilty to killing Berman. McCormack’s body has never been found and no one has ever been charged in her disappearance.
In 2001, Durst was accused of killing his neighbor, Morris Black, dismembering his body, and dumping it in Galveston Bay. He was acquitted at trial after successfully arguing he killed Black in self-defense.
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