Robert Durst was sent to a jail hospital after an “incident” involving his health behind bars, the judge presiding over his ongoing murder trial said on Thursday, sending the jury home for a long weekend.
“Mr. Durst is not here,” Judge Mark E. Windham remarked. “We understand he is in the jail hospital because of some incident this morning involving his health.”
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In 1982, Durst’s wife Kathie Durst (née McCormack) disappeared and would later be presumed dead. Robert Durst’s murder trial is not about his wife’s death but the government’s claim that he killed his former friend Susan Berman some two decades later to cover up what she knew.
Defense attorneys wanted to postpone trial indefinitely, citing Mr. Durst’s bladder cancer diagnosis. Durst, now 78, has appeared throughout trial in a wheelchair.
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin appeared to question the seriousness of Durst’s medical condition, telling a judge that the New York real estate heir said in jail that he planned to fake dementia and secure a mistrial due to COVID-19.
“So, I have no idea whether this is legitimate or not, but obviously, given his history, it is certainly suspect as to what his actual condition is,” Lewin said in court.
Citing two mistrial motions by Durst’s team on Wednesday over “extremely minor issues,” Lewin added: “It’s very clear that the defense and the defendant want this trial to go away.”
Judge Windham did not appear to believe that Durst was malingering.
“He wouldn’t be taken to the hospital without a legitimate question as to health,” Windham said. “The circumstances this morning were that he was— he was down. He was— he was not in his chair.”
“So he said, he said— So he ne— he needed to be seen,” the judge added. “And is it false? Is it fake? They do a good job at that jail of ascertaining whether or not a person is good to go to court; some people would say that they err on bringing him to court. ”
Ultimately, Windham said, he must rely on the judgment of the doctors.
“I do trust the doctors at our jail to bring him if he is, in their judgment, whether he is able to come to court,” the judge said. “I need to rely on them. So that’s all I mean. He’ll be brought to court if he’s good for court in the doctor’s opinion at the jail, and he will not be brought to court if he’s too ill for court. And I trust that judgment also.”
After the proceedings’ unexpected medical hiatus, live trial coverage continues on Law&Crime, which was selected as the sole pool camera for the trial.
[Image via Law&Crime Network]
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