Robert Durst agrees to extradition to face murder charge in L.A.

LOS ANGELES -- A New York real estate heir has agreed to return to Los Angeles to face charges that he killed a woman to stop her from co-operating with an investigation into the disappearance of his wife, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

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Robert Durst and his attorneys jointly filed an agreement with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. It stipulates that Durst will be extradited from Louisiana to Los Angeles no later than Aug. 18.

Court filings have shown that Durst has struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors on a weapons charge in New Orleans. The weapons charge has kept Durst jailed in Louisiana since March, even though he waived extradition on the murder charge in Los Angeles.

Durst, an estranged member of the family that runs 1 World Trade Center in New York, faces a first-degree murder trial in Los Angeles in the 2000 death of his friend and onetime spokeswoman Susan Berman, 55.

The 72-year-old millionaire is accused of killing Berman to keep her from talking to investigators looking into the disappearance of his first wife in 1982.

Richard DeGuerin, one of Durst's attorneys, said in a statement Tuesday that the extradition agreement is "part of our effort to have Robert Durst face and defeat the California murder charge as soon as possible."

"Bob Durst didn't kill Susan Berman and doesn't know who did," DeGuerin said. "He is eager to go to trial and prove his innocence."

U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan in Louisiana postponed Durst's trial on the weapons charge earlier this month to give attorneys time to work out a date to sign a plea agreement. On Thursday, she scheduled a change of plea hearing for Feb. 3.

Durst was arrested in New Orleans on the eve of the finale of "The Jinx," a six-part HBO documentary about Durst, the disappearance of his wife, Berman's death, and the death and dismemberment of a neighbour in Texas in 2001.

Durst's lawyers say his arrest in New Orleans was timed to coincide with the conclusion of "The Jinx." Durst had registered at the hotel under the name Everette Ward and was lying low while HBO aired the final chapter of his life story.

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Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.



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