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Robert Durst Judge Denies Defense Attempt to Stall Trial over Cancer Diagnosis

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Real estate heir Robert Durst, center, sits with his co-defense attorney David Chesnoff during his murder trial on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Millionaire Robert Durst is accused of murdering his friend and long-time confidante Susan Berman in 2000. Prosecutors have built their case around evidence from the HBO documentary "The Jinx.” which helped lead to Durst's arrest.

Robert Durst is seen in a March 10, 2020 courtroom photo. His attorneys have said his condition deteriorated since then.

The judge in the murder trial of Robert Durst, 78, denied a defense motion to stall the case over the defendant’s cancer diagnosis. In rejecting the attempt, California Superior Court Judge Mark Windham reasoned that a physical challenge does not necessarily entail incompetence for Durst to face the allegation of murdering friend Susan Berman in 2000.

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin argued that the defense’s goal was to make the trial “go away.”

Durst’s advanced age and ostensibly frail physical condition has long been an element in the long-running case. His defense described this in a dire tone with a filing last week.

“Specifically, Mr. Durst has a myriad of life-threatening health issues, including bladder cancer (which is not being treated),” defense attorneys wrote. “In addition, Mr. Durst respectfully requests an Order of release on bail with conditions including:  (1) GPS Monitoring; (2) A high bail amount; (3) Release to a medical facility so that Mr. Durst can receive appropriate treatment; (4) Additionally, Mr. Durst will pay for and provide his own security.”

The defense signaled that Durst planned to testify on his own behalf, which they said would happen months into the trial and take several days.

“This would be particularly difficult since Mr. Durst would necessarily testify several months into the trial, after the prosecution presented their case in chief,” the defense wrote. “As such, Mr. Durst, would face the dilemma of deciding to either forgo what may be his best and intended defense, or to take the risk that the stress of testifying might result in serious injury or death.”

Durst did not show up to court on Monday.

The ongoing proceedings are meant to be continuation of the trial that began in March 2020. Windham is currently holding “orientation” in which he questions jurors on their ability to serve after so long.

[Image via Alex Gallardo-Pool/Getty Images]

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