One of the lead taxpayer-funded prosecutors in the impeachment trial against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has a reputation for having once represented a notorious murderer in a case that has inspired numerous television shows and documentaries.
Dick DeGuerin, a Houston-based criminal defense attorney, was announced last month alongside Rusty Hardin as part of the prosecution appointed by the House following their impeachment of Paxton on 20 disputed charges of misapplication of public resources, bribery, obstruction of justice, abuse of public trust, and disregard of official duties. Both will be paid $500 an hour for their representation, along with travel expenses.
DeGuerin’s history of defending real estate heir and convicted murderer Robert Durst may raise some eyebrows from taxpayers who are set to foot the bill for his representation.
In 2003, DeGuerin represented Durst in the killing of his elderly neighbor, Morris Black, after parts of his body were found floating in the Galveston Bay. After the remains were discovered, Durst was arrested and released on a $250,000 bail. He then skipped a court hearing and fled to Pennsylvania, where he was caught several weeks later after attempting to shoplift. Police found $37,000 in cash, marijuana, and two guns in his vehicle.
In his trial, Durst claimed during a confrontation with his neighbor, Black grabbed his pistol and Durst attempted to retrieve it in a struggle, accidentally shooting him in the face. He then admitted to a using a knife, two saws, and an ax to dismember Black’s body before dumping his body parts in Galveston Bay.
Black’s head was never recovered, causing prosecutors to lack sufficient evidence to rebut Durst’s claims. Durst was acquitted on capital murder charges and eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of bail jumping and one count of evidence tampering.
But while Durst got off in this case, it wasn’t his only murder trial.
In 1982, Durst’s wife, Kathleen McCormack, disappeared under mysterious circumstances just weeks after being treated at a hospital for facial bruises allegedly caused by Durst. It was not until 2017 that she was declared legally dead after being missing for 35 years. Durst was charged with her murder in October 2021.
One of those backing up Durst’s alibi at the time of his wife’s disappearance was his longtime friend Susan Berman. In December of 2000, Berman was found to be murdered execution-style in Los Angeles. In October 2021, Durst was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He died soon after in January 2022 due to health issues.
Paxton’s own legal team has hinted at the grisly nature of Durst’s crimes.
At a recent press conference, attorney Tony Buzbee took aim at the prosecution by saying they “made their bones by successfully representing some of the most notorious and famous alleged wrongdoers in Texas.”
“I’ve never been called upon to represent somebody who allegedly killed someone, cut up their body, and threw them in the Galveston Bay,” said Buzbee.
As of publishing, DeGuerin did not respond to a request for comment.
The Republican Party of Texas, meanwhile, has condemned the impeachment of Paxton, noting that he was given no opportunity to respond to the charges and criticizing the rushed nature of the impeachment.
The Senate trial is scheduled to begin on September 5. Until the conclusion of the trial, Paxton remains temporarily suspended from office.