Statements by Robert Durst Create Admissibility Issues

THOSE WHO ARE ON THE COVER OF “TIME”…END UP DOING TIME

Such goes the saying that Robert Durst should have paid more attention to before he agreed to tell his story on the HBO documentary “The Jinx”. Durst has been the subject of many cover stories, many news articles, and even a film starring Ryan Gosling. Now, thanks in part to evidence brought to light on “The Jinx,” Durst is doing time in a New Orleans jail. He was arrested March 14, 2015–not coincidentally the same day as the last episode of the show aired–on a warrant for first-degree murder issued by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The murder? The 2000 murder of one of his closest friends, crime novelist Susan Berman. That case, as well as the suspicious disappearance of his first wife, Katherine Durst, in 1982 have remained “cold cases,” and were in large part the reason for the documentary into Durst’s life. The other reason: Durst wanted to tell “his story.”

THE HOT MIC LEADS TO HOT CONTROVERSY

The bombshell that has the journalistic, television and legal worlds buzzing are the so-called “hot mic” comments made by Durst near the end of filming the documentary in 2013. Durst excused himself to go to the bathroom, and while still wearing his wireless microphone mumbled a number of incriminating statements to himself, including the following: “What the hell did I do?… Killed them all, of course.”

The filmmakers did not discover the audio until finishing the documentary–a project that took ten years and meticulous research to conclude. Aside from questions about the ethics of withholding the audio and other newly discovered evidence in order for their release to have maximum dramatic effect on the show, the legal question of the admissibility of Durst’s statements may be at the heart of solving the cold cases linked to him for decades.

Legal experts and law professors around the country are already arguing about whether the incriminating statements made by Durst could be admitted as evidence against Durst by prosecutors in a future trial. Some argue that because Durst made the statements in the bathroom, he had an expectation of privacy, and simply because the statements were caught on a microphone does not make them admissible. Others argue that Durst consented to the microphone and to the interview, and therefore whatever was caught on the microphone was fair game; he had no expectation of privacy during an interview while he had a microphone on, even in a bathroom.

Others make an argument about the substance of the comments rather than the admissibility; namely, that the comments may be sarcastic and therefore not incriminating. The “of course ” at the end of the statement could be interpreted as a flippant comment by Durst on the interview itself, an almost verbal rolling of the eyes. Whether the comments are admissible, and whatever their probation value are, the ability of Durst’s lawyers to keep him out of prison must not be underestimated; in 2003 they successfully argued self-defense after Durst admitted killing and dismembering his neighbor, Morris Black.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

The criminal defense attorneys at Pak & McRae Law, LLC are experts in establishing the best case possible for their client. If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact Pak & McRae, LLC.

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Pak & McRae Law

At Pak and McRae Law, LLC we provide straightforward, sincere criminal defense for local, state, and federal matters. Our team includes a former Assistant District Attorney, so we understand how prosecutors approach cases and will use those insights to benefit your case.

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