US tycoon Durst to be transferred to California prison

LOS ANGELES - Real estate tycoon Robert Durst, charged with shooting a friend in the back of the head 16 years ago, will be transferred to a prison near Los Angeles to serve time for unrelated gun charges, a judge in New Orleans ruled on Wednesday.

Durst, 73, is to be transferred to the minimum-security prison at Terminal Island, where the likes of crime boss Al Capone and mass murderer Charles Manson were once held.

He pleaded guilty to weapons charges in New Orleans in February and the judge on Wednesday approved a plea bargain agreement in that case, sentencing him to seven years in prison.

Durst has sought his transfer to Los Angeles where he has said he plans to enter a not-guilty plea for the 2000 murder of his close friend Susan Berman, who was a mobster's daughter.

Berman was shot in the back of the head at her home in Beverly Hills, a day before she was due to be questioned by police who had reopened an investigation into the 1982 disappearance of the tycoon's wife, Kathie Durst, in New York.

Durst appeared to make an unwitting confession to a number of killings during filming of the acclaimed six-part HBO documentary "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst." In the final episode Durst was heard muttering to himself, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course," apparently unaware that a wireless microphone remained switched on while he used the bathroom.

It was not clear if Durst was sincerely confessing, but authorities in Los Angeles said the documentary had played a role in their decision to seek the multimillionaire's arrest for Berman's murder.

He was arrested in March of last year when police found a .38 calibre revolver and marijuana in his New Orleans hotel room.

Durst's lawyers have said they wish to go to trial as soon as possible to clear their client of the murder charges, which they said were driven by TV ratings.