Accused of Killing Writer, Real Estate Heir Robert Durst to Be Extradited to Los Angeles

2015-03-23T181227Z_1_LYNXMPEB2M0U0_RTROPTP_3_USA-DURST
Robert Durst sits in a police vehicle as he leaves a courthouse in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 17. Lee Celano/Reuters

(Reuters) - Real estate heir Robert Durst, charged in the 15-year-old murder of a longtime friend as a television show suggested he might have killed her, will return to California from Louisiana to face a homicide charge, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Durst, who also faces charges of illegal firearms possession in federal court in Louisiana, will be arraigned on a single murder charge in the 2000 killing of writer Susan Berman by Aug. 18, 2016 in Superior Court in Los Angeles, District Attorney Jackie Lacy said.

Durst, who made a fortune in real estate over several decades, has been held in a Louisiana jail since being arrested in March and faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison on the firearm charge.

An HBO series that aired in February and March documented several police investigations of Durst, including ones of the dismemberment killing of a male neighbor in Texas in 2003 for which he was tried and acquitted of murder, and the 1982 disappearance in New York of his wife, Kathleen.

He was convicted in 2004 for jumping bail and carrying a weapon across state lines while fleeing authorities in Texas in the dismemberment case.

The extradition agreement allows time for Durst to be prosecuted first in federal court in New Orleans, where he faces a six-month old charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, after a search of his New Orleans hotel room in March turned up a handgun.

Durst, who initially pleaded not guilty to that charge and claimed that the search was illegal, was expected to change his plea to guilty, the judge involved in the New Orleans case confirmed to Reuters last week.

But that has been postponed because of scheduling issues, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. As a result, Durst's return to Los Angeles may be delayed beyond the Aug. 18 date if legal proceedings are still continuing in Louisiana, Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the L.A. District Attorney's office, said Tuesday.

The HBO documentary chronicled the Berman case, with the final episode airing a day after Durst's arrest in New Orleans.

In that episode, Durst was presented with evidence that his handwriting appeared to match that of Berman's likely killer. Durst's voice was captured on a microphone after the interview saying he "killed them all."