Robert Durst is now “doing fine” after an emergency hospitalization delayed his murder case two weeks ago.
The multimillionaire real estate scion looked frail and skinny as he entered a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday, but he shuffled in without the help of a wheelchair used at prior hearings.
“He’s elderly. He’s had health problems. He’s doing fine,” his lead defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin told the Daily News.
DeGuerin dismissed as “bulls–t” a report this week that claimed Durst was confined to a wheelchair and “rotting” in a psych ward. But he declined to elaborate on the reason Durst was hospitalized in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 16.
“It’s private,” the Texas-based lawyer said.
“He’s not in a psych ward. He’s not dying,” another Durst lawyer, Donald Re, told The News.
In court Tuesday, Durst wore a blue blazer, tan pants, jail slippers and special headphones to follow the ongoing testimony from retired NYPD detective Michael Struk.
At one point, Durst removed the headphones and rested his head in his arms on the defense table. When the headphones began emitting a loud buzz, yet another member of his defense team tapped Durst on the shoulder.
“You’ve got to keep these suckers on,” lawyer David Chesnoff said as he picked up the headphones.
“Was there a squeak?” Durst asked as he raised his head from the table.
Durst’s case was back before a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge for a third day of conditional testimony from Struk.
The judge has allowed early video-taped testimony from several witnesses who are older than 65 and might not be available when the murder case finally goes to trial.
Prosecutors claim Durst, 74, killed pal Susan Berman in her Los Angeles bungalow in 2000 because he was worried she was about to meet with New York prosecutors to discuss the 1982 disappearance of his first wife Kathie Durst.
Prosecutors contend Durst killed Kathie and then recruited Berman to help cover his tracks. They claim Berman is the one who posed as Kathie and called in sick to her Bronx-based medical school the day after she spent her last weekend with Durst at their Westchester home.
Durst has pleaded not guilty in the pending murder case. His lawyers claim he has no idea what happened to Kathie or who killed Berman nearly two decades later.
The defense called Struk to testify about the thoroughness of Kathie’s missing persons investigation.
Kathie was 29 when she went missing. Her body has never been found.
After waiting five days to report her missing, Durst told detectives he last saw her boarding a train in South Salem on Jan. 31, 1982, on her way to Manhattan.
She was four months away from graduating medical school and was due to start a new pediatrics clerkship the next morning.
A now-deceased doorman told police he recalled seeing Kathie arrive at the couple’s Manhattan apartment after the alleged train ride.
Struk testified Tuesday that the account from the doorman along with the alleged sick call to the medical school initially led him to believe Kathie disappeared from Manhattan. He cited that theory as the main reason his team never sought a warrant to search Durst’s South Salem property.
Under testy cross examination Tuesday, Struk said he later came to believe Kathie never made it to Manhattan.
The doorman was a notorious liar with a history of showing up at work drunk, a co-worker previously testified. And the doctor who received the alleged sick call did not know Kathie personally or her voice, prosecutors have established.
“I always felt he was behind it,” Struk said under oath Tuesday, referring to Durst.
“I never came off the fact. I always felt he was a very strong person of interest and probably had something to do with it, but we never received any conclusive material,” he said.
Durst was arrested on the Berman murder warrant in New Orleans in March 2015.
Prosecutors claim he was attempting to flee to Cuba the day before the dramatic finale of HBO’s “The Jinx,” which chronicled his life.
In the final episode, Durst went into a bathroom still wearing his microphone and muttered an alleged confession to himself, unaware he was still being recorded.
“What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course,” he said into the hot mic.
Durst admitted killing his neighbor Morris Black in Texas in 2001, but he was acquitted on self-defense grounds.