LOS ANGELES — New York real estate heir Robert Durst is charged with one count of murder, but will have to defend himself in three killings at trial later this year in California.
Los Angeles prosecutors won a victory Tuesday in persuading a judge to allow jurors to hear that Durst killed a man in Galveston, Texas, in 2001, dismembered his body and tossed it out to sea.
Durst was acquitted of murder after testifying he shot Morris Black in self-defence, but prosecutors argued that Black’s death and the killing of Susan Berman in Los Angeles in 2000 were both part of an effort to cover up the slaying of Durst’s wife years earlier.
“That man beat a murder in Galveston,” Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said. “He’s not going to get away a second time.”
Durst, 75, faces trial Sept. 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court in Berman’s death. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors contend Durst, who is reportedly worth $100 million, killed his first wife, Kathleen Durst, in New York in 1982 and disposed of her body. She was reported missing and has never been found.
Durst has denied any involvement in the disappearance of his wife, who is presumed dead. But he allegedly told Berman, his best friend, about what he did and she helped him cover up the crime for years, according to testimony at previous hearings.
New York authorities reopened the case in 2000 and planned to talk to Berman, but Durst got to her first, prosecutors said. He ambushed Berman in her home near Beverly Hills and shot her in the back of the head, prosecutors said.
Durst, who inherited a fortune from his family’s New York City real estate empire, went into hiding in Galveston disguised as a mute woman living in a low-rent apartment.
He befriended Black, his neighbour, who eventually figured out his true identity. Prosecutors claim Durst killed Black to prevent him from revealing his whereabouts.
Durst provided a different story, testifying that Black confronted him with a gun one day and he accidentally shot the older man during a struggle for the pistol. Durst testified that he panicked and dismembered the body and tossed it in garbage bags in Galveston Bay.
Durst’s lawyers argued that it was unfair to present evidence of Black’s killing during the Berman case because he had been cleared by a jury and should not be on trial for the same crime.
“The second the Morris Black acquittal comes before this jury it’s game over,” said defence lawyer Chip Lewis.
Judge Mark Windham said he would allow the evidence because the “events seem to be intertwined” and it would be up to jurors to decide if the two killings were part of an effort to dodge New York detectives.
“These crimes happened — both of them — during the flight, during the hiding, at the time he believes he’s going to be prosecuted,” Windham said. “He leaves town, and two people are killed.”
It will be up to the judge to instruct jurors on what they’re allowed to consider about Black’s killing and the suspected slaying of Kathie Durst in weighing evidence in the Berman case.
Peter Johnson, a defence lawyer and law school lecturer at University of California, Los Angeles, said that evidence of two other deaths would make for a difficult defence.
“If you’re looking at once accused of murder, second time accused of murder and now it’s the third time accused of murder, that’s not within the normal juror’s experience,” Johnson said. “I think that does have a significant prejudicial impact on the defendant in this case.”
Durst was arrested in New Orleans in March 2015, just hours before the airing of the final episode of HBO’s “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”
The documentary examined the disappearance of his wife, and the killings of Berman and Black.
The HBO series created a sensation after Durst was heard during the finale muttering to himself on a live microphone: “You’re caught! What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
It’s not clear yet whether jurors will hear that recording, though it’s now likely they will hear testimony linking Durst to three deaths.
@repost Family Law Solicitors
Ewan McGregor’s eldest daughter has hit out at tabloid reports suggesting a snarky tweet was directed at her famous father, urging followers not to believe everything they read.
Clara McGregor hit headlines early on Wednesday for appearing to criticize her actor dad for leaving her mom, Eve Mavrakis, in 2017 after 22 years of marriage to date his Fargo co-star, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
The cutting remark was made after the model posted a photo of her 52-year-old mother looking youthful in a bikini while on a family vacation, and captioned it, “my mother, ladies & gentlemen * 50 is the new 30 apparently.”
One follower jokingly suggested Clara keep Eve away from any of the 22-year-old’s future boyfriends, prompting the model to respond with a fiery comment.
“Nah I keep her away from a–hole men who leave my goddess of a mother,” she wrote, alongside a smiling face emoji.
Many assumed the tweet, which has since been deleted, was aimed at the 47-year-old Scottish actor, who filed for divorce in early 2018, but Clara has now clarified her statement in a post on her Instagram Story timeline.
She shared a screenshot of an article all about her comment, titled, “Ewan McGregor’s daughter Clara attacks ‘a–hole dad with bikini snap of mum Eve,” and then made her feelings clear in a statement written over the piece.
“Let’s make one thing clear,” she began. “I was not attacking my dad or calling him (an) a–hole. I was simply saying she deserves someone who isn’t one. ALSO this isn’t news.”
She then added, “F– tabloids. Don’t believe everything you read.”
Clara has become known for her opposition to her father’s new romance, after dismissing actress Winstead, 34, as a “piece of trash” in a bitter Instagram comment last year.
She subsequently apologized, admitting to The Times, “It wasn’t the most mature way to go about things, but I was angry and upset. There had been a lot building up to it and a lot to deal with – but yeah, it wasn’t my finest moment.”
Rick McGowan started ﬁshing in Stoney Lake and Minnie Lake in B.C.’s Interior in the 1960s when he was 14 years old. The lakes were a good stopping point along Stoney Lake Road, a gravel route the McGowan family travelled almost daily from Merritt to a ﬁshing resort on Paradise Lake owned by Rick’s parents, Hughie and Ruby.
The province stocked both lakes with rainbow trout, and Minnie Lake was the place to catch a ﬁsh to brag about, ﬁve or even eight pounds. “Minnie Lake has always had a great ecosystem for providing big ﬁsh,” says McGowan. “It had a lot of shrimp and invertebrates for the ﬁsh to feed on.” The lakes were surrounded by land owned in part by the Woodward family, founders of an eponymous department store chain, but were themselves Crown property and a popular spot for residents, including neighbouring First Nations.
One day—McGowan ﬁgures around 1988—the family found the gate to Stoney Lake Road closed and padlocked. It was the start of a 30-year dispute, pitting local anglers against wealthy landowners, public interests against private, and culminating in a recent court decision that could set a precedent for public access to Crown-owned waters.
Today, the owner of that gate is American billionaire Stan Kroenke, who owns a stable of professional sports teams including the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, and who is married to a Wal-Mart heir. He bought the Douglas Lake Ranch in 2003 and has been snapping up adjacent land ever since. He’s now the largest private landowner in B.C., with rights to almost 500,000 hectares of deeded and Crown grazing land under his Douglas Lake Cattle Company.
After years of disputes over access, which included RCMP arrests for trespassing and a failed petition from the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club—of which McGowan is a member—the Douglas Lake Cattle Company sued the club. Lawyers asked a judge to clarify whether Stoney Lake Road is public, whether the public should be permitted access to the lakes and who owns the ﬁsh.
Douglas Lake Cattle Company did not get the answers it wanted when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Joel Groves rendered his decision in early December. Stoney Lake Road is public; the lakes must be reopened for catch-and-release ﬁshing; and the ﬁsh are wild, even if the lakes are stocked, the judge found.
More than a mundane court ruling, the decision is being received as a declaration afﬁrming public rights to cherished water bodies at a time when private interests are rapidly closing them off. The court heard that the company dammed Stoney and Minnie lakes to make them bigger, partially flooding the road in the process. The company, which operates several private ﬁshing lodges, argued that the new expanded borders of the lakes were private. The ranch also put large rocks and logs on the road “to make it impossible to pass,” writes Groves.
All the while, the province knew. In 1996, the district highways manager wrote a letter to Douglas Lake ranch manager Joe Gardner, asking him to remove the locked gate and install a cattle guard. Gardner did not comply. “Mr. Gardner has acted, as manager of the DLCC, as someone who is above the law,” writes Groves.
Groves had harsh words for the province, the second defendant in the case: “The province did not respond to this apparent unlawful act. Over 20 years, a privately held corporation, owning a large swath of land, prohibited the public from driving on the public road and the province did nothing.”
The government came in for even greater rebuke in a scathing epilogue to the decision—a rare document Groves presented in court after his ruling. In it, Groves writes that “it makes no sense to me that the Crown would retain ownership of the lakes, only for there to be no access.” He urges the province to re-examine its trespassing laws and “guarantee access to this precious public resource.”
Christopher Harvey, lawyer for the Nicola Valley club, says he hopes this ruling will spur the province to protect right of access to public lands. “It is the easiest thing in the world for a landowner to put up a private property sign and just lock a gate over a public road,” Harvey says. “Ninety-nine per cent of the public will assume it is private property.”
B.C.’s natural resources ministry says it’s reviewing the judgment before deciding its next steps, while a lawyer representing Kroenke’s company says it is considering all options, including appeal. Neither Kroenke nor ranch manager Gardner agreed to an interview.
The gate to Stoney Lake Road isn’t the only one with a lock. There is legal action in the works over access to Corbett Lake, another Crown lake partially on Douglas Lake Cattle Company property. McGowan, now 66, sees this as his ﬁght to ensure his eight-year-old granddaughter can ﬁsh in Crown lakes, just like he did as a boy. “The locking and blocking access to public lakes all over B.C. is escalating like an epidemic,” he says. “If we don’t stop it, you’re not going to go off the blacktop without paying someone to go there.”
@repost Divorce in Canada Who Gets What
LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday to remain in office — but saw more of her power ebb away as she battled to keep Brexit on track after lawmakers demolished her European Union divorce deal.
May won a narrow victory, 325 votes to 306 votes, on an opposition motion seeking to topple her government and trigger a general election.
Now it’s back to Brexit, where May is caught between the rock of her own red lines and the hard place of a Parliament that wants to force a radical change of course.
After winning the vote, May promised to hold talks with leaders of opposition parties and other lawmakers, starting immediately, in a bid to find a way forward for Britain’s EU exit.
Legislators ripped up May’s Brexit blueprint Tuesday by rejecting the divorce agreement she has negotiated with the EU over the last two years. That it would lose was widely expected, but the scale of the rout — 432 votes to 202, the biggest defeat for a government in British parliamentary history — was devastating for May’s leadership and her Brexit deal.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded with the no-confidence motion, and urged the government to “do the right thing and resign.”
May, who leads a fractious government, a divided Parliament and a gridlocked Brexit process, said she was staying put. May said an election “would deepen division when we need unity, it would bring chaos when we need certainty, and it would bring delay when we need to move forward.”
The government survived Wednesday’s vote with support from May’s Conservative Party and its Northern Irish ally, the Democratic Unionist Party. Many pro-Brexit Conservatives who voted against May’s deal, backed her in the no-confidence vote to avoid an election that could bring a left-wing Labour government to power.
Had the government lost, Britain would have faced a snap election within weeks, just before the country is due to leave the European Union on March 29.
Political analyst Anand Menon, from the research group U.K. in a Changing Europe, said May had a remarkable ability to soldier on.
“The thing about Theresa May is that nothing seems to faze her,” he said. “She just keeps on going.”
May’s determination — or, as her foes see it, her inflexibility — might not be an asset in a situation calling for a change of course. The prime minister has until Monday to come up with a new Brexit plan, and has promised to consult with senior lawmakers from across the political spectrum on her next moves.
But she also said any new Brexit plan must “deliver on the referendum result,” which May has long interpreted to mean ending the free movement of workers to Britain from the EU and leaving the EU’s single market and customs union.
Many lawmakers think a softer departure that retained single market or customs union membership is the only plan capable of winning a majority in Parliament. They fear the alternative is an abrupt “no-deal” withdrawal from the bloc, which businesses and economists fear would cause turmoil.
Labour lawmaker Ben Bradshaw accused May of being “in a total state of denial” about how radically her Brexit plan needed to change.
Green party legislator Caroline Lucas said May’s intransigence had led to the current crisis.
“This is a national calamity of the prime minister’s own making,” Lucas said. “Today has to be the day when we start to change the conversation about Brexit.”
Faced with the deadlock, lawmakers from all parties are trying to wrest control of the Brexit process so that Parliament can direct planning for Britain’s departure.
But with no clear majority in Parliament for any single alternative, there’s a growing chance that Britain may seek to postpone its departure date while politicians work on a new plan — or even hand the decision back to voters in a new referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
Pro-EU lawmaker Dominic Grieve introduced a bill Wednesday that aims to lay the groundwork for a second referendum, which he called “the only way out of the current crisis.”
European leaders are now preparing for the worst, although German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still time for further talks. She told reporters in Berlin that “we are now waiting to see what the British prime minister proposes.”
But her measured remarks contrasted with the blunt message from French President Emmanuel Macron, who told Britons to “figure it out yourselves.” He said Britain needed to get realistic about what was possible.
“Good luck to the representatives of the nation who have to implement something that doesn’t exist,” Macron said.
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc was stepping up preparations for a disorderly “no-deal” Brexit after Parliament’s actions left Europe “fearing more than ever that there is a risk” of a cliff-edge departure.
Economists warn that an abrupt break with the EU could batter the British economy and bring chaos at borders, ports and airports. Business groups have expressed alarm at the prospect of a no-deal exit.
France’s parliament on Wednesday adopted a law allowing for emergency measures, including extra customs officers, to deal with a “no-deal” Brexit.
May’s deal was doomed by deep opposition from both sides of the divide over the U.K.’s place in Europe. Pro-Brexit lawmakers say the deal will leave Britain bound indefinitely to EU rules, while pro-EU politicians favour an even closer economic relationship with the bloc.
The most contentious section was an insurance policy known as the “backstop” designed to prevent the reintroduction of border controls between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state. Assurances from EU leaders that the backstop is intended as a temporary measure of last resort failed to win over many British lawmakers.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said it was now up to opponents of the backstop “to come up with an alternative solution to honour their commitment to avoiding a hard border.”
Varadkar said if May’s government was willing to shift some of its “red lines” in negotiations — such as leaving the customs union and EU single market — then the position of EU negotiators would also change.
“The onus is on Westminster” to come up with solutions, Varadkar said.
@repost Equalization Formula
Ontario-based Firm Announces Services for Divorce Mediation in Vaughan
Mazzeo Law, a top firm in Ontario has announced services for divorce mediation in Vaughan.
The firm, which specialises in family law including child and spousal support, child custody and domestic contracts, also helps clients who need legal support for cases relating to real estate laws as well as wills and estates.
A family lawyer for the firm noted, “Divorce can be very difficult for all parties involved so from our end, we support our clients by providing prompt and efficient service to ease their burden. Our divorce mediation experts are backed by years of legal experience and expertise, and we work closely with our clients to build a legal framework that will lead to an optimal conclusion.”
The same family lawyer in Vaughan further noted that, when handling divorce proceedings, a main focus for the firm is providing clients with clear answers. He added, “There is a lot of uncertainty in these situations. Clients are worried about their children, their financial future, and so many other things. This is the reason why we have established our practice based on long-term support and guidance.”
The Ontario Ministry of Attorney General’s website defines mediation as a “voluntary way of resolving disputes.” A mediation may be open or closed. In an open mediation, the process is not confidential and the mediator can prepare a report once the process is completed. In a closed mediation, all discussions are confidential and cannot be used as evidence against either party, with few exceptions. The mediator will also not report to the lawyers or to the court regarding the progress of the mediation, and he or she will not provide an opinion on the issues discussed to anyone other than the parties involved.
Earlier this year, Canada’s federal government proposed amendments to the Divorce Act. According to a report, the main thrust of the amendments is to prioritise the child’s best interests and mitigate the adversarial tendency of court proceedings following the divorce. The proposed amendments also take into consideration measures that will address issues of family violence and encourage parties involved to focus more on dispute resolution services, such as mediation.
Other key points in the amendments, as specified by The Vanier Institute of the Family, include updating of “adversarial language” such as “custody” and “access” to terms such as “parenting orders” and “parenting time”; establishing of clear guidelines for relocation of children; and making it easier to collect child or spousal support.
In addition to divorce mediation, the Vaughan-headquartered firm also provides divorce filing services. While spouses can file a divorce application on their own, it is always strongly recommended to consult with a reputable family lawyer. A lawyer can best advise on how to manage the effects of the divorce on a person’s rights and obligations, especially concerning children, assets, liabilities and future obligations.
“Deciding to and going through with divorce is not an easy decision to make. There is no way to go around it; it can be very challenging and frustrating,” the attorney for the firm said. “Working with an experienced firm can help ensure a peaceful and mutually beneficial conclusion for both spouses, be it through negotiation, mediation or arbitration.”
To learn more about divorce mediation in Vaughan or to book a consultation with a lawyer, visit the firm’s website.
Contact us at any time:
3300 Hwy 7 Suite 904
Vaughan, Ontario L4K 4M3