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Durst enters not guilty plea to federal gun charge

NEW ORLEANS — Real estate scion Robert Durst, who has been charged with murder in California, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to a federal gun charge stemming from his arrest last month in New Orleans.

Durst’s lawyers have sought his extradition to Los Angeles County, where prosecutors want him in connection with the 2000 killing of a longtime friend, Susan Berman, in a case recently chronicled in the HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”

But the federal charge and similar Louisiana state weapons charges mean that Durst, 72, is likely to remain in Louisiana for the foreseeable future.

Appearing frail, Durst entered his not guilty plea before Judge Lance Africk in the Eastern District of Louisiana, who scheduled a hearing in the case on June 11, with a trial to begin on June 22.

“I’m glad we have some dates,” said his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, after the hearing. He declined further comment.

Durst, who remains incarcerated pending trial, is due in court on May 7 on the state charges.

The final episode of the HBO series aired a day after his March 14 arrest at a New Orleans hotel, where authorities said he was staying under an assumed name with $42,000 in cash, a revolver, about five ounces of marijuana and a latex mask.

Authorities have said Durst was likely seeking to flee to Cuba.

His attorneys say FBI agents who arrested him and initially searched his hotel room did so improperly.

Durst also was indicted last week on Louisiana charges of possessing a weapon as a felon and carrying a firearm with a controlled substance. The federal charge, of being a felon in possession of a firearm, carries up to 10 years in prison.

The HBO series documented several police investigations of Durst over the years, including the dismemberment killing of a male neighbor in Texas in 2003 for which he was tried and acquitted of murder, and the 1982 disappearance in New York of his wife, Kathleen.

Toward the end of the series, Durst was presented with evidence of his handwriting appearing to match that of Berman’s likely killer. Durst’s voice was subsequently captured on a microphone after the interview concluded as saying he had “killed them all.”

Durst has long been estranged from his family, known for its significant New York real estate holdings. Prosecutors say he is worth some $100 million.

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