New York real estate heir eligible for parole, set to be freed in Texas

Monday, October 11th 2004, 7:52 pm
By: News On 6

HOUSTON (AP) _ New York real estate heir Robert Durst _ jailed for nearly three years on charges related to the death and dismemberment of an elderly neighbor _ is eligible for parole and likely will be freed this week, state officials said.

Durst was acquitted in November of intentionally killing 71-year-old Morris Black in Galveston, but remained jailed for bond-jumping because he fled after his 2001 arrest, and for evidence-tampering for disposing of the victim's body parts.

As part of an agreement, Durst last month pleaded guilty in exchange for a five-year sentence. He was given credit for time served, and is now eligible for parole.

``Our parole division is working to come up with a release and supervision plan,'' said Mike Viesca, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also still has to review Durst's parole plan and decide whether to place any conditions.

Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said Durst has been a model prisoner. ``I'm sure he will be a model parolee,'' he said.

Durst had moved to Galveston disguised as a woman after a New York investigation was reopened into the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen.

He testified during his trial that he accidentally shot Black in September 2001 as they struggled for a gun in Durst's apartment. He contended he panicked, cut up the body and dumped the pieces in Galveston Bay.

Durst left Galveston after Black died but returned and was arrested in October 2001. He posted bond and fled again, then was caught a month later in Pennsylvania.

His family runs The Durst Organization, a privately held billion-dollar New York real estate company.

DeGuerin did not want to say where his client will live once he is freed.

``He wants to go someplace where he can be anonymous and live quietly,'' he said.