Robert Durst, the previous New York actual property inheritor who impressed a darkish HBO documentary, was sentenced Thursday to life behind bars for the execution-style homicide of his pal Susan Berman in 2000.
“I wish you peace going forward from this,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Windham advised a handful of Berman’s family members who had been assembled within the courtroom.
Durst, 78, was convicted of the homicide in September on the conclusion of a trial that took years to return collectively and was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Durst was arrested in New Orleans in 2015, carrying a latex head-to-shoulders masks and carrying $42,000 in money simply earlier than the final episode of “The Jinx” aired on HBO ― attracting worldwide consideration to his life and household historical past. The Durst household owns and operates a few of Manhattan’s most respected industrial actual property. As the oldest son, Robert had been anticipated to take over the household enterprise, till his risky character proved unsuitable. His brother Douglas was finally tapped for the job as an alternative.
Berman was 55 when police discovered her lifeless in her California home with a bullet wound to the again of her head. Neighbors had alerted legislation enforcement when Berman’s canine had been noticed roaming the streets. Police later acquired a observe within the mail directing them to a “cadaver” at Berman’s handle ― a observe Durst admitted he’d written.
Berman had been a pal of Durst’s for many years, serving as his spokesperson when his first spouse, Kathleen McCormack, disappeared underneath mysterious circumstances in 1982.
Earlier this yr, Douglas Durst testified about his brother’s violent tendencies in the course of the trial, saying that Robert would “like to murder me.”
“There is almost no emotion that Bob shows that is genuine,” Douglas mentioned.
Thomas Durst, the third Durst brother, equally testified in 2020, earlier than the trial was disrupted, that he was afraid of his older sibling. Thomas mentioned he would charge Robert’s generosity, on a scale from zero to 100, at “about minus 50, if the scale goes that low.”
Durst denied killing Berman and, in a uncommon move for a defendant, even took the stand to say so.
Prosecutors urged in the course of the trial that Durst had murdered Berman, against the law author who was having monetary hassle, with a view to forestall her from speaking about McCormack, whom Durst can be suspected of killing.
“He’s a narcissistic psychopath. He killed his wife and then he had to keep killing to cover it up,“ Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said after Durst’s conviction last month. Durst also denied having any knowledge about what happened to his first wife.
Speaking before the judge Thursday, Lewin said, “The evidence is very clear” that Berman assisted Durst “with covering up the killing of his wife,” however he added: ”I believe it’s crucial to know … that Susan Berman didn’t cowl up what was described to her as a homicide. Susan Berman very probably [believed] this was some form of accident.”
Windham repeatedly dubbed the case “a witness killing” on Thursday earlier than handing down his sentence. Berman’s loss of life represented a “denial of justice to the McCormack family,” Windham mentioned.
The McCormack household was reportedly offended that they weren’t permitted to learn a sufferer influence assertion upon Durst’s sentencing, since a major a part of prosecutors’ presentation in the course of the trial was dedicated to proving that his marriage had been in shambles within the 1980s.
When Berman’s household and mates stood to ship their statements to the choose on Thursday, a number of of them referred to as on Durst to inform the McCormack household the place to seek out Kathy’s stays so they might search closure.
McCormack was 29 when she disappeared, and had been married for nearly a decade. She was simply months away from graduating medical faculty.
The case of McCormack’s disappearance and presumed loss of life was reopened in May. Westchester, New York, District Attorney Mimi Rocah is reportedly searching for to indict Durst in his home state.
The former actual property inheritor first confronted homicide expenses nearly 20 years in the past, when he was acquitted within the loss of life of a neighbor regardless of having admitted to chopping up the person’s physique and dumping it in a waterway.
At his 2003 trial, Durst claimed he was making an attempt to defend himself throughout a battle over a gun that in the end killed his pal and neighbor, Morris Black. He mentioned he feared nobody would consider him because of the unusual circumstances of his living association. Durst had been retaining a low profile and utilizing a disguise after Berman’s loss of life.
As his protection legal professional put it in 2003: “His friend is dead, lying on the floor in a $300 apartment rented by a billionaire in Galveston, Texas, who is dressed as a woman. How much stranger does it get than that, and who will believe him?”
After being arrested for Black’s loss of life and set free on bail, Durst promptly fled, solely to be caught in Pennsylvania for making an attempt to shoplift a newspaper and a hen salad sandwich. He had, bizarrely, shaved off his hair and eyebrows.
Durst in the end served simply round one yr in jail for evading his bail.