INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — A Los Angeles jury convicted Robert Durst on Friday of murdering his best friend 20 years ago that took new life after a New York real estate heir took part in a documentary, who linked him to the murder. Linked to the 1982 disappearance of his wife.
Durst, 78, was convicted of first-degree murder of Susan Berman, who was shot at point-blank range in the back of the head at her Los Angeles home in December 2000 as she prepared to tell police that How he helped cover up the murder of his wife.
Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, was Durst’s longtime confidant, who told friends he provided a fake excuse for her after his wife disappeared.
Prosecutors painted a portrait of a wealthy narcissist who didn’t think the laws applied to him and ruthlessly dealt with those who stood in his way. They intertwined evidence of Berman’s murder with the suspected death of Cathy Durst and the 2001 murder of a tenant at a Texas fluffhouse where Robert Durst hid while fleeing New York officials.
Durst was arrested in 2015 while hiding in a New Orleans hotel on the eve of the airing of the final episode of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”, in which he was confronted with evidence and confronted by prosecutors. Said. was a confession.
Durst can be heard murmuring to himself over the live microphone in the bathroom: “There it is. You’ve been caught.”
Durst’s decision to testify in his defense – hoping for a repeat of his acquittal in the Texas murder – backfired as he was forced to lie under oath, made harmful admissions and was questioned by a prosecutor. His credibility was destroyed.
The conviction marks a victory for officials who have sought to put Durst behind bars on murder charges in three states. Durst was never charged with the disappearance of his wife, who was never found, and was acquitted of manslaughter in Galveston, Texas, where he admitted that he dismembered the victim’s body and threw it into the sea. .
The story of Durst, the estranged descendant of a New York real estate developer, has been fodder for New York tabloids since the disappearance of his wife. He provided plot twists so much that Hollywood couldn’t resist making a feature film about his life that eventually led to the documentary and the discovery of new evidence in Burman’s murder.
Durst fled the law several times, disguised as a mute woman in Texas and staying under an alias in a New Orleans hotel with a shoulder-to-head latex mask for a supposed getaway. He bailed in Texas and was arrested after shoplifting a chicken sandwich in Pennsylvania, despite having $37,000 in cash — along with two handguns — in his rental car.
He later quipped that he was “the worst fugitive the world has ever seen”.
When his wife went missing, Durst escaped intense scrutiny from investigators. But his troubles resumed in late 2000 when New York officials reopened the case.
His lawyer tells him to be prepared to be charged in the case, and he flees a life of luxury to Galveston, Texas, where he rents a cheap apartment as “Dorothy Sinner”, a woman whom he pretends to be. She couldn’t speak. He eventually gave up the disguise after accidents that included walking into a men’s restroom and lighting his wig in a bar while lighting a cigarette.
Just before Christmas, he testified that he traveled to L.A. to visit Berman for a “stop” with plans to visit some tourist sites.
Durst, who long denied being in L.A. at the time of Berman’s death, testified at trial that when he arrived they found him dead on the bedroom floor.
Berman, a writer who had been friends with Durst as he was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, had serious financial problems at the time. Durst owed her $50,000, and prosecutors suggested that she was trying to take advantage of more money from him, telling her that she was going to speak with the police.
Nine months after her death, Durst killed his Galveston neighbor, Morris Black, in what he said was either an accident or self-defense. Durst said that he found Black in his apartment holding Durst’s .22-caliber pistol, which they had become friends with.
Durst was acquitted after testifying to the death of a 71-year-old in a struggle for a gun. Durst then dismembered Black’s body and threw it into the ocean. He was convicted of destroying evidence by throwing away body parts.
After horrific evidence of trial and dismemberment, Durst discovered he was an untouchable, he said. Despite an estimated $100 million fortune, he was turned away by several condominium associations and told the Los Angeles County Museum of Art would not take his money unless he donated anonymously.
Durst thought that a 2010 feature film based on her life, “All Good Things”, starring Ryan Gosling as her and Kirsten Dunst as Kathy, was largely accurate, despite implicating her in the three murders. And the sympathetic picture was painted. He only objected that he was depicted hitting his dog – something he would never do.
He reached out to the filmmaker and agreed to sit in for a lengthy interview for a documentary. He encouraged his friends to do the same and gave filmmakers access to his boxes of records.
He deeply regretted his decision after “The Jinx” aired on HBO in 2015, calling it a “very, very, very big mistake”.
Documentary filmmakers discovered anecdotal evidence that linked them to an anonymous note sent to police asking them to direct Burman’s lifeless body.
Durst, who was so convinced he could not attach to the note, told the filmmakers “only the killer could write the note”.
The filmmakers confronted him with a letter sent to Burman a year earlier. The handwriting was similar and Beverly Hills was misspelled as “Beverly” on both. He could not tell the two apart.
Durst turned off the camera and mumbled to himself over a live microphone in the bathroom: “Definitely killed them all.”
During the 14 days of testimony Judge Mark Windham called it “devastating”, Durst denied killing his wife and Berman, although he said he would lie if he did.
He tried to put the note away and what prosecutors said was a confession during an insecure moment.
For the first time, Durst admitted on the witness stand that he had sent the note and that he was in Los Angeles at the time of Berman’s death.
Durst said he sent the note because he wanted Berman to be found, but no one knew he was there because it would look suspicious.
He admitted that he had difficulty even imagining that he could write the note without killing Burman.
“It’s so hard to believe, admit that I wrote the letter and didn’t kill Susan Berman,” Durst testified.
A prosecutor said it was one of the truest things Durst said among a ton of lies.