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Suicidal US tycoon moved to mental health jail

19 March 2015, 08:55

Los Angeles - Eccentric US tycoon Robert Durst has been transferred to a jail for mentally ill inmates pending further hearings after his arrest for the killing of a mobster's daughter, an official said on Wednesday.

Media reports suggested Durst was suicidal, but the official in the local sheriff's office would only say he was moved on health grounds to the facility near New Orleans late on Tuesday.

"Mr Durst was moved for medical reasons," spokesperson Phil Stelly of the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office told AFP.

Blake Arcuri, a prosecution lawyer, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying "He's suicidal." Stelly would not confirm that.

It was the latest twist in the case of the 71-year-old Durst, a bizarre murder mystery laid bare in a TV documentary.

Durst - the scion of a New York real estate dynasty worth $4.4bn - was charged in Los Angeles on Monday with murder over the 2000 death of his close friend Susan Berman.

He appeared to make an unwitting confession to a number of killings during filming of the acclaimed six-part HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.

In the final episode, broadcast on Sunday, Durst is heard muttering to himself, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course" - apparently unaware that a wireless microphone remained switched on while he used the bathroom.

It was not clear if Durst was sincerely confessing, but authorities in Los Angeles reportedly said the documentary had played a role in their decision to seek the multimillionaire's arrest for Berman's murder.

Claiming that TV ratings are driving the prosecution, lawyers for Durst say they want the case to go to trial in California as soon as possible.

But prosecutors in New Orleans, where Durst was arrested on Saturday, are pursuing minor gun and drug charges against him.

When police arrived at his hotel room, he was found with a .38 caliber revolver and marijuana, police say.

"We will continue to fight for Bob. We want to get to California as quickly as we can so we can get into a court of law and try this case where it needs to be tried," said Durst's attorney Dick DeGuerin.

Berman was shot in the back of her head at her home in Beverly Hills, a day before she was due to be questioned by police who had reopened an investigation into the 1982 disappearance of the tycoon's wife, Kathie Durst, in New York.

Durst is due back in court on the gun and drug charges next Monday in New Orleans.



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