Prosecutors in the murder case against Robert Durst can begin videotaping witness testimony next month, a California state judge ruled today, rejecting arguments from Durst’s lawyers that the schedule wouldn’t provide enough time to prepare.
In court papers filed earlier, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said that the New York real estate scion, whose suspected murders and a possible confession were featured in the 2015 HBO documentary The Jinx, remains both a “menace to society” and to as-yet-unnamed prosecution witnesses.
At a hearing today, the DA asked Judge Mark Windham to allow the early testimony — and to keep at least one of the witnesses’ identity secret until closer to the videotape testimony, to begin February 14. The tapes will be used at a still-unscheduled trial if the witnesses are unable to appear then.
“Defendant is a menace to society,” wrote Deputy D.A. John Lewin in court papers filed before today’s hearing. “He has demonstrated a willingness to use deadly force to escape justice — killing two people and arming himself with deadly weapons to kill anyone who stood in his way of escape.”
Durst has pleaded not guilty to the 2000 murder of Susan Berman, who prosecutors say was shot by Durst for knowing too much about his involvement in the 1982 disappearance of his wife Kathleen Durst.
One of the witnesses is expected to be Dr. Albert Kuperman, believed to have spoken to Kathleen Durst around the time of her disappearance. The identity of another, unnamed witness must be disclosed to Durst’s attorney by January 31.
Durst’s lawyer had argued that the suspect is too old and frail to harm anyone and that keeping witness identities concealed was unnecessary.