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Robert Durst's Health Is Improving, Prison Officials Say Amid Plans To Appeal Murder Conviction

Robert Durst's health has been upgraded to fair following a mugshot of him laying feebly in a hospital bed, according to an official in California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

By Gina Tron
Robert Durst

Convicted killer Robert Durst’s health, once characterized as dire, is now improving, according to prison officials in California.

"[Durst] is in fair condition and is housed in an area where he receives access to 24/7 nursing and medical care," Terry Thornton, deputy press secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told Oxygen.com via email on Wednesday morning. Thornton added that Durst is "housed at California Health Care Facility which provides medical care to incarcerated men who have the most severe and long term needs."

Last month, it was reported that Durst’s health was suffering as a mugshot of him laying in a hospital bed made the rounds.

The 78-year-old real estate heir has bladder cancer, among other ailments, CNN reports. It was reported in October that Durst was also on a ventilator after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Durst was not present in court when he was convicted of first-degree murder for the 2000 slaying of his best friend Susan Berman that same month. Officials had learned he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 at the time but even before that, his health was a focal point. During that murder trial, Durst’s defense repeatedly sought a mistrial, citing his poor health. Durst was in a wheelchair for most of the trial, which ended with a life sentence for him. 

Durst is now aiming to get that same conviction overturned. In a letter to the Second District Court of Appeals in California obtained by CNN, his new attorney Christopher Garcia states that Durst "will retain appellate counsel." However, the convicted killer has not obtained a lawyer for the appeal as he battles his medical issues. He wrote that as he heals, “he cannot meet with an attorney or anyone else for that matter."

Dina Sayegh Doll, a Southern California legal analyst, told CNN that what happens next can play out in one of two ways.

"Either it will be decided by the Court of Appeal justices or eventually rendered moot by his failing health," he said.

Trying to appeal his recent murder conviction is only one of the Durst’s woes right now. Following that life sentence, Durst was charged with second-degree murder for the presumed death of his wife Katherine “Kathie” McCormack Durst. A recent complaint alleges Durst killed Kathleen, then 29, in their Lewisboro home in late January of 1982. Prosecutors pointed to her death as the catalyst for Durst's murder of Berman. They say he killed her after learning the prosecutors wanted to reopen Kathleen's case, and that Berman had information that could have incriminated him.

The third murder he’s been linked to is the 2001 murder of Morris Black in Texas. During the Berman trial, Durst testified that he'd fled to Texas when news broke that Kathleen's case was being reopened. There, he bought a wig and hid out in a cheap apartment in Galveston, disguised as a mute woman. Soon after arriving, Durst became acquainted with Black, his neighbor. But that friendship, like several in Durst’s lives, ended in death and mystery. He shot him to death in 2001 before disposing of his dismembered remains in Galveston Bay. He claimed he shot Black in self-defense; the millionaire scion was acquitted of that murder at trial.