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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Robert Durst Found Innocent

Aired November 11, 2003 - 12:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There was a very shocking -- very surprising, almost shocking verdict in the Robert Durst trial in Texas that we've been covering. Mike Ramsey is at the microphones now . He is one of the defense attorneys. He was -- Robert Durst was found innocent, not guilty, in the murder of his neighbor.
Let's listen in.

MIKE RAMSEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: As lawyers, we're proud of the work that we've done. Those people that are upstairs thanking god right now have lost sight of what shape the case was in when god was handling it by himself, is our position. But all of this, all the work that went into the case, ends up with the jury. And that's where a case gets decided.

And these people worked enormously hard under trying circumstances. And any questions or I'm going to yield to Dick.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RAMSEY: That's correct, and the state didn't either. I think all of us believed it was either murder or it was nothing. And neither side asked for lesser included.

I certainly did not want to get in a position where there would be a compromise. And I think after consulting with Mr. Durst himself, we didn't request it. And I think it was the right thing to do.

QUESTION: But were you concerned that there was a lesser burden of proof and perhaps he would have been found guilty of manslaughter?

RAMSEY: Well, it would be a place to compromise, and this wasn't a case of compromise. Mr. Durst believes guilty or he was not guilty. And to take a lesser included is just not something we really considered seriously.

QUESTION: What happens to him now?

RAMSEY: He'll be tried for bond jumping. And that will be up to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He can answer that question better than I can in a moment. The court I'm sure will be scheduling things and we'll be talking sometime very soon.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RAMSEY: Theoretically it can happen.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RAMSEY: Well, we're going to discuss it. I don't know what we will actually do. We're discussing it already.

We may or may not. It depends on what circumstances we could arrange to guarantee security. That's certainly a possibility.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RAMSEY: What did he say? He just has expressed his pleasure at how -- you know, he has come a long way. When Dick and I first met him, he had been 40 years under the influence of one drug or another. And he's been two years now that he's been clean, sober and straight.

And he's a different guy, to tell you the truth. Very perceptive in his own defense.

Now, let me yield to Dick and let him answer some questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DICK DEGUERIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I can tell you that Bob was horrified at some of the things that he did. And he's tried to block from his mind pretty successfully some of the details about that. And that's one of the problems that we had with his testimony, because there are a lot of things that he truly does not remember. It's not a selective memory. It's something that's caused by the state that he was in at the time that he did some of those things.

But what I need to say is that I have to really congratulate the jury on their ability to look at this case for what the charge was and to not be influenced unduly by the horrible things that happened after Morris Black died. We all know that the worst part about this case was what Bob did after Morris Black was dead. He dismembered and discarded the body and he fled, not once, but twice.

We saw that as the problem with the case from the very beginning. We also saw as a problem how to explain what a multimillionaire from a family that's worth billions was doing living in a $300 a month run- down apartment in Galveston that he rented wearing a wig, disguised as a woman and using a false name. That presented a few problems, as you might imagine.

But what we found was that this jury -- and they can speak for themselves -- were able to put in proper perspective the evidence that they had. The evidence that showed why Bob was here was pretty clear. He was basically run out of New York and run out of every place that was familiar to him.

The evidence about what happened after Morris Black died did not change how Morris Black died. From the beginning of jury selection, these folks can tell you, that's what we asked them if they could do, if they could keep separate in their minds these different issues in the case.

We knew it was all coming in. We knew it was going to be a problem. We knew that some people would say, well, if he ran, that's it for me. Or, if he cut up that body, I can't be fair.

But these people all intellectually saw during jury selection that there are separate issues, and they kept those issues separate. And I have to congratulate them for the long, tough job that they did.

And we just interviewed them and they've said to us, you know, it wasn't easy. We fought. We argued. We talked about it. We looked at every piece of evidence that was in front of this jury.

We reviewed all the documents. We looked at all the photographs. We talked about it up one side and down the other.

And to their credit, they were able to say what we have to decide here is whether Morris Black died as a result of an intentional murder, or whether this was, as the defense says, Robert Durst was acting in his own defense. And while that happened, the gun accidentally discharged.

BLITZER: And so there you have it. Dick DeGuerin, the defense attorney for Robert Durst, explaining why he won in this case. Robert Durst was found not guilty in the murder of his next-door neighbor.

A surprising decision given that Robert Durst has acknowledged, has confirmed that he did in fact dismember, chop up the body afterwards, discard it. He insists he had panicked in the aftermath of murdering his next-door neighbor, Morris Black, as an act of self- defense. The jury wound up believing him.

He's still in prison. He's still facing bond-jumping charges. We'll see what happens on that front.

We're also standing by to hear from the prosecutors in this case losing this high-profile case. We'll get some reaction from them. That's coming up.

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