1. SOUNDBITE (English) Dick DeGuerin, defense attorney:
"Doctors say that he needs urgent hospitalization, urgent hospitalization. This is not something that's (inaudible) you know from observations that when we were in trial, when we were in hearings, Mr. Durst frequently had difficulty. We, in fact, obtained an order from you about two years ago for him to be examined because of things that happened in the courtroom because of his health. They've gotten much worse in the last year, much worse."
Los Angeles – 10 March 2020
2. STILL of Robert Durst during a court appearance in March 2020
Los Angeles – 17 May 2021
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Judge Mark Windham, Los Angeles County:
"I'm interested. I care about Mr. Durst's health. I want to hear about it, but there also must be notice so that the other side can respond."
4. SOUNDBITE (English) John Lewin, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County:
"The absolute burden that will be placed upon the people, the court, etc., for a request which in the end is simply a get out of jail free card because we would never be able to try the man. There's not two systems of justice in this county, one for rich people and one for everybody else. Mr. Durst is in custody and getting the best treatment possible that they offer at Family USC."
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Judge Mark Windham, Los Angeles County:
"There's a description of difficulty in working with Mr. Durst and preparing him. The defense has had at least five years to prepare for every contingency in this case. Second of all, there's no evidence that Mr. Durst is mentally incompetent. Indeed, his letter to this court clearly demonstrates his cogent thought. Third, a physical disorder does not necessarily resort in mental incompetence or mean that the defendant is not present."
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Judge Mark Windham, Los Angeles County:
"Even if it turns out the sheriff's are wrong and he really did want to come today then still, it's not I don't think it's prejudicial to him. We're gonna take a recess and let's get our jurors in here."
The murder trial of multimillionaire Robert Durst resumed Monday after a 14-month recess without the defendant present and with arguments about whether the case should continue at all.
Judge Mark Windham said that Durst had refused to leave his Los Angeles County jail cell, though his lawyer disputed that account.
Windham denied a defense request to suspend the case further because Durst has bladder cancer and a myriad of other health problems that require hospitalization.
Durst, 78, an heir to a New York commercial real estate empire, has pleaded not guilty in the killing of his best friend in 2000.
The judge planned to spend the first day on trial since March 2020 questioning jurors to make sure they can still serve on the case expected to take four to five more months. The panel had 12 jurors and 10 alternates, one fewer than when the case was recessed.
Attorney Dick DeGuerin said measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus would harm Durst's defense by keeping his lawyers scattered throughout the courtroom and unable to confer. Windham said the measures were required to keep everyone safe, though he and all the lawyers have been vaccinated.
The lead lawyers were seated alone in the front of the courtroom and their co-counsel were spread throughout jury boxes on both sides of the courtroom. Plexiglas panels were placed between the lawyers and a court stenographer.
Jurors were seated in the gallery. They were handed zip-lock bags with note pads, a mask and tissues as they entered the courtroom.
Windham moved the case to a larger courtroom in Inglewood to accommodate the distancing needed to resume.