Robert Durst murder trial to resume in 2021 because of virus

FILE - In this March 10, 2020, file photo, real estate heir Robert Durst looks over during his murder trial in Los Angeles. At a hearing Friday, July 17, 2020, on the resumption of the murder trial of Durst, a Los Angeles judge said it won't resume in late July as planned, and may stay on hold until April. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo, Pool, File)

LOS ANGELES – The California murder trial of New York real estate heir Robert Durst is scheduled to resume before a jury in April after the multimillionaire rejected an offer Friday to let a judge decide his fate sooner.

The case had been set to restart in July after a four-month delay because of the coronavirus outbreak but defense lawyers had objected over health concerns for jurors, themselves and their 77-year-old client.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham said he would resume the case April 12.

Windham had offered Durst the option of a bench trial at a July 17 hearing. He gave defense lawyers two weeks to consult with their client to see if he wanted to waive his right to a jury and let the judge rule after hearing the evidence.

Durst, who wasn't in court Friday, opted to stick with the jury, his lawyers said.

Durst's trial in the 2000 shooting death of his best friend Susan Berman had just begun when it was halted in March. The trial is expected to take five months.

Prosecutors allege Durst killed Berman because he feared she was going to tell New York police that he killed his wife in 1982 and she helped him cover up the crime.

Durst, who was arrested in the killing in New Orleans in 2015, has pleaded not guilty.