Nearly 16 years after the death of his friend Susan Berman, a wheelchair-bound Robert Durst appeared in a Los Angeles court on Monday to face murder charges.
After a 45 minute arraignment, the real estate scion pleaded not guilty to fatally shooting Berman in her Benedict Canyon home in 2000. Prosecutors contend he killed Berman, who for years functioned as his unofficial spokesperson, to keep her from revealing details about the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst.
“I am not guilty,” he said in court, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I did not kill Susan Berman.”
Durst , who has also repeatedly maintained his innocence in the disappearance of Kathleen, was arrested in connection with Berman’s death by FBI agents in New Orleans last March. During a search of his hotel room, agents found marijuana and firearms. He was sentenced to a seven-year prison term on weapons charges and later extradited to California.
He’s due back in court in February, with a preliminary trial hearing likely to take place in March. If found guilty, Durst would be eligible for capital punishment, but prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, told the judge that his client suffers from a number of ailments, notably the after-effects of spinal surgery and a condition that causes swelling of the brain.