Prosecutor: Jurors conclude Durst inheritor ‘killed all of them’
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Robert Durst’s lengthy, weird and lethal run from the regulation ended when a Los Angeles County jury convicted him within the homicide of his finest good friend greater than 20 years in the past.
The 78-year-old New York actual property inheritor, who was lengthy suspected however by no means charged within the disappearance of his spouse in New York in 1982 and acquitted of homicide within the 2001 killing of a neighbor in Texas, was discovered responsible Friday of the first-degree homicide of Susan Berman.
“Bob Durst has been round plenty of years, and he’s been capable of commit plenty of horrific crimes,” Deputy District Legal professional John Lewin mentioned outdoors the Inglewood Courthouse. “Contemplating what he’s accomplished, he acquired much more of a life than he was entitled to.”
Durst, who’s sick and frail and sat all through the trial in a wheelchair, was not current when the decision was learn. He was in isolation at a jail as a result of he was uncovered to somebody with coronavirus, an odd twist on the jury’s remaining day.
The worldwide pandemic considerably altered the course of the trial, suspending it in March 2020 after solely two days of testimony. After a 14-month break, probably the longest within the U.S. authorized system, the case resumed in Could for 4 extra months of testimony.
Durst faces a compulsory time period of life in jail with out parole when sentenced Oct. 18.
The jury discovered Durst ambushed Berman and killed her as a result of she was a witness to against the law, which prosecutors mentioned was the suspected killing of Kathie Durst, who has by no means been discovered. Berman was shot at point-blank vary at the back of the pinnacle in her Los Angeles house in December 2000.
Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, was Durst’s longtime confidante who, on the time of her loss of life, was ready to inform police she offered a phony alibi for him after his spouse vanished.
Prosecutors painted a portrait of a wealthy narcissist who didn’t assume the legal guidelines utilized to him and ruthlessly disposed of people that stood in his manner. They interlaced proof of Berman’s killing, Kathie Durst’s disappearance and the 2001 killing of Morris Black, a tenant in a Texas flophouse the place Robert Durst holed up whereas on the run from New York authorities.
“He killed his spouse after which he needed to preserve killing to cowl it up,” Lewin mentioned.
Lewin, who met with jurors after the decision, mentioned they believed prosecutors proved Durst killed Kathie Durst and murdered Berman and Black.
The protection mentioned they believed there was “substantial affordable doubt” and had been disenchanted within the verdict, lawyer David Chesnoff mentioned. He mentioned Durst would pursue all avenues of attraction.
In some ways, Durst had solely himself accountable for an investigation that took on new life after he rejected the recommendation of legal professionals and everybody he knew to take part in an incriminating documentary about his obvious dangerous luck of getting individuals near him go lacking or get knocked off.
Durst was arrested in 2015 whereas hiding out in a New Orleans resort on the eve of the airing of the ultimate episode of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” through which he was confronted with incriminating proof and made what prosecutors mentioned was a confession.
Durst might be heard muttering to himself on a dwell microphone in a rest room: “There it’s. You’re caught.”
Lewin credited filmmakers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling with getting the case rolling.
“With out them having performed the interviews we would not be the place we’re,” Lewin mentioned. “That was the place to begin, no query.”
Durst’s determination to testify in his personal protection — hoping for a repeat of his acquittal within the Texas killing — backfired as he was pressured to confess mendacity beneath oath, made damning admissions and had his credibility destroyed when questioned for 9 days by Lewin.
“There has by no means been a defendant that I am conscious of that has perjured himself so could occasions about so many various issues in such a brief time period,” Lewin mentioned. “It was completely surprising.”
The story of Durst, the estranged scion of a New York actual property developer, has been fodder for New York tabloids since his spouse vanished. He offered plot twists so quite a few that Hollywood couldn’t resist making a function movie about his life that finally led to the documentary and discovery of recent proof in Berman’s slaying.
Durst ran from the regulation a number of occasions, disguised as a mute girl in Texas and staying beneath an alias at a New Orleans resort with a shoulders-to-head latex masks for a presumed getaway. He jumped bail in Texas and was arrested after shoplifting a rooster sandwich in Pennsylvania, regardless of having $37,000 in money — together with two handguns — in his rental automotive.
He later quipped he was “the worst fugitive the world has ever met.”
Durst escaped shut scrutiny from investigators when his spouse disappeared. However his troubles resurfaced in late 2000 when New York authorities reopened the case and his lawyer advised him to be ready to be charged within the case.
He fled a lifetime of luxurious to Galveston, Texas, the place he rented an affordable condo as “Dorothy Ciner,” a girl he pretended couldn’t converse. He finally dropped the disguise after mishaps that included igniting his wig at a bar whereas lighting a cigarette.
Simply earlier than Christmas, he traveled to LA to go to Berman for a “staycation” with plans to see a number of the vacationer websites, Durst testified. He discovered Berman useless on a bed room ground when he arrived.
Berman, a author who had been buddies with Durst since they had been college students on the College of California, Los Angeles, had severe monetary issues on the time. Durst had given her $50,000, and prosecutors advised she was attempting to leverage extra money from him by telling him she was going to talk with the cops.
9 months after her loss of life, Durst killed Black. Durst mentioned he got here house to search out Black, a good friend, in his condo holding Durst’s .22-caliber pistol.
Durst was acquitted after testifying the 71-year-old was killed in a wrestle for the gun. Durst then chopped up Black’s physique and tossed it out to sea. He was convicted of destroying proof for discarding the physique components.
After the trial and the ghastly proof of the dismemberment, Durst mentioned he turned a pariah. Regardless of an estimated $100 million fortune, he was turned away by a number of condominium associations and mentioned the Los Angeles County Museum of Artwork wouldn’t take his cash except he donated anonymously.
Durst thought a 2010 function movie Jarecki made based mostly on his life, “All Good Issues,” starring Ryan Gosling as him and Kirsten Dunst as Kathie, had been largely correct and painted a sympathetic portrait, regardless of implicating him in three killings. He solely objected that he was depicted killing his canine — one thing he would by no means do.
He reached out to the filmmaker and agreed to sit down for prolonged interviews for a documentary. He inspired his buddies to do the identical and gave the filmmakers entry to containers of his information.
He got here to deeply remorse his determination after “The Jinx” aired on HBO in 2015, calling it a “very, very, very massive mistake.”
The documentary filmmakers found an important piece of proof that linked him to an nameless word despatched to police directing them to Berman’s lifeless physique.
Durst, who was so assured he couldn’t be linked to the word, advised filmmakers “solely the killer might have written” the word.
When filmmakers confronted him with a letter he despatched Berman a yr earlier — with an identical handwriting and Beverly Hills misspelled as “Beverley” on each — he couldn’t inform them aside.
The gotcha second offered the climax of the film as Durst stepped off digicam and muttered to himself on a dwell microphone within the rest room: “Killed all of them, in fact.”
Throughout 14 days of testimony that was so punishing Decide Mark Windham known as it “devastating,” Durst denied killing his spouse and Berman, although he mentioned he would lie if he did.
He was pressured to confess for the primary time that he had written the word and had been in LA across the time of Berman’s loss of life.
Lewin mentioned jurors advised him they did not imagine Durst’s explanations for the word or the obvious confession throughout an unguarded second.
Durst claimed the recent mic didn’t catch his full thought, which he mentioned was: “They’ll all assume I killed all of them, in fact.”
That is precisely what the jury concluded, Lewin mentioned.