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Millionaire real estate scion Robert Durst has been charged in suburban New York City with the death of his former wife, Kathie Durst, who vanished in 1982, authorities confirmed Friday.

A state police investigator filed a criminal complaint on Tuesday at a town court in Lewisboro, New York, accusing Durst of second-degree murder.

The action wasn't announced at the time by any law enforcement officials or Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah, who recently convened a grand jury to consider charges.

"The Westchester County District Attorney's Office can confirm that a complaint charging Robert Durst with the murder of Kathleen Durst was filed in Lewisboro Town Court on October 19, 2021. We have no further comment at this time," her office said in a statement to CBS News on Friday.

The grand jury was empaneled last week and has started hearing witness testimony, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press this week. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.

The grand jury process had been expected to take several weeks.

A message seeking comment was left with for Durst's lawyer and Kathie Durst's family.

Robert Durst, 78, was sentenced last week to life in prison without parole for murdering a confidante whom prosecutors say helped him cover up Kathie Durst's killing. Los Angeles prosecutors say Durst shot Susan Berman in 2000 as she was preparing to confess her role to police.

Durst, who has numerous medical issues, sat in a wheelchair during much of the sentencing hearing and in the days since has been hospitalized on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19, one of his lawyers said.

Kathie Durst was 29 when she vanished on Jan. 31, 1982.

Her body was never found. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017. Robert Durst divorced Kathie Durst in 1990 citing abandonment.

He has never been charged in her disappearance despite several efforts over the years to close the case. Authorities reopened the case in 1999, searching a lake and the couple's home.

This story was originally published by CBS News on Oct. 22, 2021 at 10:21 a.m. ET.


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Britney Spears' father, Jamie Spears, has hired new legal counsel. The move comes after Jamie was suspended as conservator of her estate in September.

According to court documents obtained by ET, Jamie notified the court on Tuesday that he is substituting his former attorney for new representation by Alex M. Weingarten of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.

The decision to bring on a new attorney comes amid a possible inquest into his role as his daughter's conservator over the past 13 years, NBC News reports.

At a court hearing on Sept. 29, after hearing from both the singer and Jamie's lawyers, Judge Brenda Penny agreed to suspend Britney's father from overseeing her fortune and career.

Jamie's official removal will be decided at a later hearing on Nov. 12.

During the latest hearing, Britney's attorney, Mathew Rosengart, asked for Jamie's immediate removal, also citing the allegations about her phone and home being bugged that were revealed in the Controlling BritneySpears documentary as a serious issue.

He also asked to appoint a temporary conservator and to submit a 30-day plan for transition that will ultimately terminate the conservatorship by the end of this fall. Certified Public Accountant John Zabel was appointed as temporary successor.

Rosengart stated that Britney was aware of the alleged illegal recording, and also brought up the domestic violence restraining order against Jamie with regard to Britney's children, as well as Jamie's recent bankruptcy filing.

Jamie’s attorney attempted to appeal, however the judge said the order is not appealable. Judge Penny agreed that this was in the best interest of Britney.

On Sept. 30, Jamie issued a statement via his previous attorney, Vivian L. Thoreen, stating in part, "Mr. Spears loves his daughter Britney unconditionally. For 13 years, he has tried to do what is in her best interests, whether as a conservator or her father."

Following the decision, Britney's attorney, Mathew Rosengart, told ET's Lauren Zima that the 39-year-old pop star was "happy" about the decision.

"I think you can assume she's very happy," he shared, also telling reporters that "the goal" is to free Britney from her conservatorship by her 40th birthday on Dec. 2. 

"I can't say where she is, but she's in a much nicer place than this and she's on cloud nine," Rosengart said, before sharing what the singer might want to do if her conservatorship ends. "For the first time in about 13 years that decision will be up to Britney and only Britney. And that's a great thing."

In her bombshell testimony in June, Britney said she wanted to sue her family.

"The people who did this to me should not get away and to be able to walk away so easily," she said. "Ma'am, my dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship and my management who played a huge role in punishing me, ma'am, they should be in jail."

Jamie's attorney said at the time, "He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much."


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New York real estate heir Robert Durst was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without chance of parole for the murder of his best friend more than two decades ago.

Durst, 78, was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court last month of first-degree murder for shooting Susan Berman point-blank in the back of the head at her home in December 2000. Durst silenced Berman to prevent her from incriminating him in the reopened investigation of his wife's 1982 disappearance in New York, prosecutors said.

Berman provided a phony alibi for Durst when Kathie Durst vanished, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also presented evidence that he intentionally killed a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, in 2001, though he had been acquitted of murder in that case after testifying that he shot the man in self-defense.

Durst is the grandson of Joseph Durst, who founded the Durst Organization, one of Manhattan's largest commercial real estate firms. His father, Seymour, took the reins of the company and later handed control of it to a younger brother, Douglas.

Robert Durst settled his share of the family fortune and was estimated by prosecutors to have $100 million.

Durst's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said they plan to appeal.

Durst, who has numerous medical issues, on Thursday was rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair wearing brown jail scrubs. His eyes were wide open and he had a catatonic stare.

Several of the jurors returned to the courtroom to witness the sentencing and were seated in the jury box.

The trial began in March 2020 and was adjourned for 14 months as the coronavirus pandemic swept the U.S. and courts were closed. It resumed in May with the jury that reached its verdict September 17.

Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, was Durst's longtime confidante who was preparing to tell police she provided a phony alibi for him after his wife vanished in New York in 1982.

Kathie Durst has never been found. Robert Durst has never been charged with a crime related to her disappearance.

Durst testified in the Los Angeles case, denying he killed his wife or Berman, but he said he'd lie if he had done so.

Kathie McCormack Durst's family had hoped to present statements to the court Thursday about their loss, but prosecutors denied the request, according to emails sent to their lawyer.

Attorney Robert Abrams said the McCormack family was disappointed, and he was outraged. He said family members would not attend the sentencing.

"The family is not going to go travel 3,000 miles to be a prop in some Hollywood production and sit there and not be able to make their victim impact statements," Abrams said. "This is not some movie where it's gross spectacle. This is their lives, and they've suffered for 40 years."

A spokesman for the district attorney's office did not return a message seeking comment.

Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson said it was questionable whether Kathie Durst was a victim in the Los Angeles case because Robert Durst wasn't charged with her killing. Allowing her siblings to speak at sentencing would create another issue for an appeal.

Defense lawyers argued in court papers that Durst deserved a new trial, saying there was insufficient evidence to prove the case and listing 15 ways the judge erred.

Judge Mark Windham rejected the motion and said the prosecution had overwhelming evidence and proved Durst's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in at least five ways, including several admissions Durst made. He rejected all the arguments that he had ruled incorrectly.

"You said the court erred so many times it made me feel self-conscious," Windham said.

The motion was mainly to preserve issues for appeal and likely to fail, Levenson said, though some of their arguments could get a higher court's attention.

The defense said Windham should have declared a mistrial when the jury was sent home and the case adjourned. They said the length of the delay was unprecedented.

Many of the other issues revolve around admission of evidence, such as allowing prosecutors to present testimony that Durst killed a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, in 2001 and chopped up his body and tossed the parts out to sea. Durst was acquitted of murder after testifying that Morris Black pulled a gun on him and was killed in a struggle for the weapon.

They also objected to testimony and exhibits that showed when Durst was arrested in New Orleans in 2015, he had a mask, fake identification, drugs, $40,000 and a loaded handgun in his hotel room.

They also objected to showing jurors a feature film, All Good Things based on Durst's life and starring Ryan Gosling as him and Kirsten Dunst as Kathie Durst.

They incorrectly said jurors were shown the six-part documentary, The Jinx: The Life and Crimes of Robert Durst, though jurors were shown excerpts, including a portion that many took as a confession.

In a moment off camera but with a live microphone, Durst muttered, "Killed them all, of course."

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin was asked by a reporter after the conviction what he had to say to Durst.

Lewin, who was aggressive and frequently scrapped with defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin over the six years it took from arrest to conviction, initially said he didn't have anything to say to the man he had pursued for years.

Then he called Durst a "narcissistic psychopath" who "killed his wife and ... had to keep killing to cover it up."

"He's 78 years old. He's been walking around for a long time," Lewin said. "He had a lot more of a life, you know, Kathie didn't make 30. On balance, considering what he's done, he got a lot more of a life than he was entitled to."

-- Originally published by CBS News.

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CBS NewsThu, 10/14/2021 - 17:39