Watch CBSN Live

Robert Durst appears in LA court, enters plea in Susan Berman's 2000 slaying

LOS ANGELES -- Real estate heir and documentary figure Robert Durst made a long-awaited appearance Monday in a Los Angeles courtroom on a charge of killing his friend 16 years ago.

WATCH: “48 Hours:” Robert Durst: The Next Chapter

Robert Durst sentenced to 7 years in prison 05:54

Durst pleaded not guilty during an afternoon arraignment at the Airport Branch courthouse in Los Angeles for the killing of his one-time spokeswoman Susan Berman in 2000.

Durst, 73, appeared in court in a wheelchair, wearing a neck brace, local media reported.

“I do want to say here and now though I am not guilty,” a pale and frail-looking Durst said. “I did not kill Susan Berman.”

Durst’s statement came after his attorney unsuccessfully argued to ban news media cameras from the courtroom.

Prosecutors said they would not be seeking the death penalty against Durst.

Los Angeles County prosecutors have been seeking to bring Durst to California since shortly after his arrest last year in Berman’s slaying.

An estranged member of the wealthy New York real estate family that runs 1 World Trade Center, Durst was tracked to New Orleans in March 2015 by FBI agents worried that he was about to flee to Cuba. The arrest came just as the final episode was airing of “The Jinx,” an HBO documentary that featured Durst and examined his alleged ties to the killing of Berman and several other crimes.

Authorities suspect Durst killed Berman to keep her from talking to Westchester County prosecutors about the disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathleen, in 1982.

Susan Berman "48 Hours"

“The Jinx” detailed the 1982 disappearance, Berman’s death, and the 2001 death and dismemberment of Durst’s neighbor in Galveston, Texas. Durst said he killed his neighbor Morris Black in self-defense, and was acquitted of murder in 2003.

 At the end of the show, Durst is heard muttering, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

TIMELINE: Inside the Robert Durst case

Before he could be brought to California, Durst faced a federal weapons charge in New Orleans. He pleaded guilty to that charge in April and has begun serving a seven-year prison sentence. He was brought to Los Angeles County jail from a federal prison in Indiana last week.

Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, has said Durst is just as eager to come to Los Angeles County and prove his innocence.

“We’ve been begging to get to California since two days after he was arrested,” DeGuerin told The Associated Press in September.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue