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Courts & Trials

Robert Durst Will Stand Trial for Susan Berman’s Murder After Extradition to California

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Reuters/Landov

New York real estate heir and accused killer Robert Durst has been extradited to California, where he will soon stand trial for the murder of his longtime friend and former spokeswoman Susan Berman, PEOPLE confirms.

Durst was arrested Friday morning in Louisiana and booked into the Los Angeles jail at 1:20 p.m., according to records. He will be arraigned on Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, where he will enter a plea to the murder charge.

Durst will remain in L.A. County custody throughout the court proceedings, his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, tells PEOPLE. Reiterating earlier comments, DeGuerin says his client is “eager” for a trial that will prove Durst had nothing to do with Berman’s death:

“It has been hard on him, and he will finally have his day in court.”

The 73-year-old Durst had been incarcerated in Louisiana since his March 2015 arrest in New Orleans on weapons charges (which, as a felon, he is barred from possessing). 

Days before he was in police custody there, California authorities filed a formal murder charge against Durst.

Prosecutors allege Berman was murdered in 2000 because Durst didn’t want her talking to investigators about the mysterious disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst, in 1982.

Though Durst agreed in late 2015 to an August extradition, it was delayed due to unspecified “medical conditions,” DeGuerin told PEOPLE at the time. Durst is “good but in frail health,” DeGuerin tells PEOPLE following the Friday extradition.

“We are asking for [Durst] to be placed in a facility to address his health issues,” DeGuerin says. “I do know they have a hospital facility for people who have health problems. He has stomach problems. he has neck problems. He recently had a spinal fusion in his cervical spine. He is a cancer survivor. … He has a number of health problems.”

During the April hearing, Durst was also sentenced to seven years and one month in prison for the federal gun charge as part of a February guilty plea agreement.

Durst originally faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for illegally carrying a .38-caliber revolver. He’ll serve his sentence on the gun charge while awaiting prosecution. (Louisiana filed its own charges against Durst, but later dropped them in April 2015 after negotiations with his defense team, in order to expedite his extradition.)

In March 2015, a Los Angeles judge signed an arrest warrant  for Durst for the alleged murder of Berman. Days later, Durst was discovered in a New Orleans hotel, where he had checked in under the alias “Everette Ward.”

Inside his hotel room, the FBI said they found a .38-caliber revolver, a mask and more than $40,000 in cash.

Berman, a writer, filmmaker and daughter of mob boss Davie Berman, was killed on or about Dec. 23, 2000. Her body was discovered in her Benedict Canyon, California, home on Christmas Eve.

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“Bob did not kill Susan Berman,” DeGuerin tells PEOPLE. “He doesn’t know who did.”

The murder charge was filed against Durst following his involvement in the Emmy-winning HBO documentary series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. The show, which he participated in against his lawyer’s advice, focused both on his first wife’s disappearance and Berman’s killing years later.

Durst has, over the years, been investigated in connection with the deaths or disappearances of three people: his first wife, whose body has never been found; Berman; and then-neighbor Morris Black, who was killed and dismembered in 2001. Durst stood trial in Black’s death, but was found not guilty after arguing he acted in self-defense.

Durst maintains his innocence in all three cases.

Earlier this year, Kathleen’s family petitioned a New York court to formally declare her dead. The petition was part of the family’s multimillion-dollar “right of sepulcher” lawsuit, claiming Robert has denied the family its right to choose a method of burial for their relative, who they insist is deceased.

Robert was initially identified as a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance, but has never been charged with her murder.

In the final episode of the HBO series, Robert appeared to mutter to himself that he’d “killed them all, of course.” He was allegedly unaware the filmmaker’s microphones were still recording at the time, and the statement sparked intense speculation that he might be arrested.

Speaking to PEOPLE last year, DeGuerin said the show’s producers “were out to get [Robert] from the very get-go” and that Robert was “tricked into thinking he would get a fair opportunity to explain himself after being under unfair suspicion for almost all of his adult life in the disappearance of his wife.”

DeGuerin added: “Now, he’s unfairly suspected of killing Ms. Berman because of this entertainment program being creatively edited to make it look like he was either confessing or that there is new evidence when there is not.”