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Durst Pleads Not Guilty|to Pair of Gun Charges

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Robert Durst appeared before a state judge Thursday and pleaded not guilty to two gun charges.

"Oh, I'm not guilty, your honor," the 72-year-old, multimillionaire and New York real estate heir told Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich.

A day earlier, an Orleans Parish grand jury indicted Durst on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and of being possession of a firearm alongside a controlled substance when he was arrested by federal authorities at the J.W. Marriott hotel on Canal Street March 14.

The firearm was a .38 caliber revolver; the substance, five ounces of marijuana.

Durst also faces prosecution on a first-degree murder charge in Los Angeles in connection with the shooting death of writer Susan Berman almost 15 years ago. He is currently being held without bond.

Last March, California authorities traced Durst's phone to the New Orleans hotel and asked federal agents to help arrest him. Upon his arrest, the authorities found a gun and Durst's marijuana.

Durst's legal team, which includes Houston-based attorney Dick DeGuerin, known primarily for his representation of Tom DeLay and David Koresh, as well as for helping get Durst acquitted of murdering his neighbor in 2001, has denied Durst is responsible for Berman's death, and says Durst is eager to be extradited to California to face the murder charge.

But Wednesday's indictment will put Durst's extradition to California on indefinite hold. Durst is scheduled for an April 16 arraignment in federal court, and the federal case is expected to take precedence over his other legal problems.

"I feel like we're being tag-teamed," DeGuerin told reporters outside state court Thursday. "And I feel like we need to be in California, where the main case is, so we can try the case."

The deadline for pretrial motions filed here in the state case in May 7.

Durst's alleged previous murders were portrayed in the HBO documentary series "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst."

Durst was a suspect in the still-unsolved disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst after she disappeared from their New York estate in 1982.

In 2003, Durst was acquitted by a Texas jury for the 2001 murder of his neighbor, Morris Black.

Durst admitted to shooting Black and dismembering his body, much of which washed up later inside trash bags in Galveston Bay, but said he did it in self defense. Durst was acquitted. Black's skull was never found.

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