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Hollywood producer testifies in Robert Durst murder case

FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2016, file photo, real estate heir Robert Durst sits in a courtroom during a hearing in Los Angeles. A retired New York police detective says the missing wife of New York real estate heir Robert Durst once went to her neighbor's in pajamas and said her husband beat her and she feared he would kill her. James Varian testified Tuesday, April 25, 2017, that a neighbor reported Kathleen Durst had knocked on her Manhattan penthouse bedroom window for help. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, Pool, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Hollywood producer testified Wednesday that a friend claimed to have impersonated the first wife of real estate heir Robert Durst in a telephone call that prosecutors say took place after the wife was dead.

Lynda Obst, whose films include “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Interstellar,” took the stand during a pre-trial hearing for Durst, who is charged with shooting Susan Berman in 2000 at her Los Angeles home.

Obst said that Berman, a mutual friend, confided that she had pretended to be Kathleen Durst in a 1982 telephone call to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Center in New York.

A previous witness has said the woman claimed she was sick and couldn’t make it to her first day of a clerkship in pediatrics.

Prosecutors contend that Kathleen Durst already was dead at that point.

Her body never was found but in March a judge in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan officially declared her dead.

Durst isn’t charged with her murder but he is accused of killing Berman. Prosecutors contend that he was afraid she would implicate him to investigators looking into his wife’s disappearance.

Durst, 74, has pleaded not guilty to murder. A Superior Court judge hasn’t determined whether he will stand trial.

On Tuesday, another friend of Berman’s, Miriam Barnes, told the court that years earlier, Berman had told her: “If anything ever happens to me, Bobby did it.”

Barnes said she never went to police because she feared Durst could harm her.

Testimony is being taken from so-called secret witnesses whose names aren’t made public until they appear in court.

Prosecutors have suggested that Durst, who is jailed and has health issues, could use some of his fortune to have witnesses killed. The defense has scoffed at the suggestion.

However, the witnesses’ testimony is being video recorded for use in case they are not available for trial.

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