A California jury on Friday discovered multimillionaire actual property inheritor Robert Durst responsible of murdering his greatest buddy Susan Berman in 2000, the primary murder conviction for a person suspected of killing three folks in three states over the previous 39 years.
Durst, 78 and frail, will possible die in jail because the jury additionally discovered him responsible of the particular circumstances of mendacity in wait and killing a witness, which carry a compulsory life sentence. Superior Courtroom Decide Mark Windham, who oversaw the trial, set a sentencing listening to for Oct. 18.
The trial got here six years after Durst’s obvious confession was aired within the HBO tv documentary collection “The Jinx,” during which Durst was caught on a scorching microphone within the lavatory saying to himself, “What the hell did I do? … Killed all of them, after all.”
The nine-woman, three-man jury had deliberated for seven and a half hours over three days.
Durst, who has been in jail at some stage in the trial, was not current for the studying of the decision as a result of he was in isolation after having been uncovered to anyone with COVID-19. Windham determined to have the decision learn in Durst’s absence.
Talking to attorneys for each side later, he referred to as the case “probably the most extraordinary trial that I’ve ever seen and even heard about.”
Los Angeles County prosecutors referred to as Durst a “narcissistic psychopath” who killed Berman in an try and cowl up the disappearance of his spouse, Kathleen McCormack Durst, in New York in 1982. Durst was solely on trial for killing Berman in California, however prosecutors argued he murdered three folks: his lacking spouse, Berman and a neighbour in Texas who found his id at a time when Durst was hiding from the legislation.
Regardless of lengthy being a suspect within the disappearance of his spouse, a 29-year-old medical scholar, Durst was by no means charged. Prosecutors mentioned he killed her, then determined to kill Berman 18 years later as a result of she had informed others that she helped Durst cowl up the crime. Berman, 55, was shot at the back of her head inside her Beverly Hills dwelling.
Shortly after the decision, the McCormack household issued an announcement urging prosecutors in Westchester County, New York, to prosecute Durst. “The justice system in Los Angeles has lastly served the Berman household. It’s now time for Westchester to do the identical for the McCormack household,” the assertion mentioned.
Representatives of the Westchester County District Lawyer’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Protection legal professionals portrayed Durst, a cancer survivor who makes use of a wheelchair, as a “sick outdated man.” However he withstood 15 days as a witness, 9 of them beneath cross examination.
In 58 days unfold over a 12 months and a half, together with a one-year suspension after the trial started because of the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors introduced mountains of circumstantial proof pointing towards Durst, who testified that he found Berman’s murdered physique when he went to go to her however didn’t name police.
The prosecution additionally delved into the 2001 dying and dismemberment of Morris Black, who was Durst’s neighbor in Galveston, Texas. A Galveston jury acquitted Durst of homicide, though Durst admitted he chopped up Black’s physique and dumped it in Galveston Bay.
Durst testified that Black pulled a gun on him and was shot by chance when the 2 males wrestled over the firearm in Durst’s condominium. Black’s dying marked the second time Durst had a lifeless physique at his toes, in response to his personal testimony. Within the deaths of each Black and Berman, Durst mentioned he at first tried to name the 911 emergency quantity however later determined in opposition to it, fearing no one would consider he was not responsible.
Durst testified from a wheelchair, normally in a jail uniform but additionally carrying a saggy swimsuit jacket that may have match correctly in his youthful, extra sturdy days.
Apart from “The Jinx” audio, two different items of proof appeared to break Durst’s protection. One was the recorded 2017 testimony of Nick Chavin, a mutual buddy who mentioned Durst admitted to him in 2014 that he had killed Berman.
“I needed to. It was her or me. I had no selection,” Chavin recounted Durst telling him one evening after dinner at a New York Metropolis restaurant.
Durst additionally admitted he authored a handwritten letter to Beverly Hills police with the phrase “cadaver” and Berman’s deal with, directing them to her undiscovered physique. Durst had denied writing the word for 20 years.
Durst is the grandson of Joseph Durst and son of Seymour Durst, who constructed The Durst Organisation into one in all New York Metropolis’s premier actual property corporations. Robert Durst way back left the corporate, now run by his estranged brother Douglas Durst, who testified at trial and mentioned of his sibling: “He’d prefer to homicide me.”