A Los Angeles judge announced Wednesday that the murder trial of millionaire Robert Durst, the subject of the HBO crime documentary "The Jinx," will resume on May 17 with the jury present.
Durst, heir to a New York real estate empire, left his jail cell to hear the ruling from Superior Court Judge Mark Windham.
The defendant looked frail and wore a green medical mask over his face, one strap dangling below his chin. Durst spoke briefly in a high, thin voice, much weaker than when he was last heard in court.
His lawyers confirmed Durst asked the judge about a letter Durst had written to him, but was returned due to an insufficient address.
The lawyers declined further comment on the letter.
The trial was initially suspended in March 2020 after just a few days of witness testimony due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was originally scheduled to resume in July but was postponed again until 2021.
Durst is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his longtime friend and confidante Susan Berman to allegedly prevent her from incriminating him in the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack.
Durst, who will turn 78 years old next month, has denied killing Berman and pleaded not guilty.
He had for years denied writing a so-called "cadaver note" that pointed police to Berman's body in her Beverly Hills home. In "The Jinx," Durst said the letter could have been sent only by Berman's killer.
Durst is accused of shooting the 55-year-old Berman in the head at her home on December 23, 2000. He was arrested and charged with murder in March 2015.
Prosecutors allege that Durst murdered and somehow hid the body of his first wife and admitted this alleged crime to Berman.
Lead prosecutor John Lewin said in opening arguments that Durst was physically and verbally abusive and pushed Kathleen McCormack into having an abortion.
Durst has long maintained he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance. McCormack was legally declared dead in 2017. Her body has not been found and no one has been charged in that case.
Durst also admitted to killing and cutting up the body of his neighbor in Galveston, Texas, but he was acquitted of murder charges by a jury in 2003.
In the HBO series, Durst said he did not want to have children because "somehow I thought that I would be a jinx."
At the end of the six-part HBO series, Durst is overheard on a microphone he apparently did not realize was on. "What the hell did I do?" he says. "Killed them all, of course."
The defense team has said it will show that Durst's comments were heavily edited and not uttered in the order in which they are heard in the documentary.
On April 12, there will be a court hearing for pre-trial motions in the case, including allowing some witnesses to testify remotely.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed Durst is still housed in a protected medical unit at The Twin Towers Correctional Facility.
Durst's lawyers have repeatedly said their client's mind is sharp but he's in poor health. Durst's long list of surgeries and procedures includes the opening of his skull and insertion of a stent to drain fluid and the removal of part of his esophagus.