A California jury has discovered multimillionaire actual property inheritor Robert Durst responsible of murdering his longtime buddy Susan Berman in 2000, the primary murder conviction for a person suspected of killing three individuals in three states over the previous 39 years.
Durst, 78 and frail, will possible die in jail because the jury additionally discovered him responsible on Friday of the particular circumstances of mendacity in wait and killing a witness, which carry a compulsory life sentence. Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who oversaw the trial, set a sentencing listening to for October 18.
The trial got here six years after Durst’s obvious confession was aired within the HBO tv documentary sequence The Jinx, wherein Durst was caught on a sizzling microphone in the bathroom saying to himself, “What the hell did I do? … Killed them all, of course.”
The nine-woman, three-man jury had deliberated for seven and a half hours over three days for Friday’s resolution. Durst, who has been in jail in the course of the trial, was not current for the studying of the decision as a result of he was in isolation after having been uncovered to any person with COVID-19.
Windham determined to have the decision learn in Durst’s absence. Speaking to attorneys for each side later, he referred to as the case “the most extraordinary trial that I’ve ever seen or even heard about”.
Lead prosecutor John Lewin, who had pursued Durst for years, credited The Jinx filmmakers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling for his or her revealing interviews with Durst, telling reporters after the decision: “Without them having conducted the interviews, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
In closing arguments, Lewin 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 individuals: his lacking spouse, Berman and a neighbour in Texas who found his id when Durst was hiding from the regulation.
Despite lengthy being a suspect within the disappearance of his spouse, a 29-year-old medical pupil, Durst was by no means charged. Prosecutors stated he killed her, then determined to kill Berman 18 years later as a result of she had advised others that she helped Durst cowl up the crime. Berman, 55, was shot behind her head inside her Beverly Hills home.
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 finally served the Berman family. It is now time for Westchester to do the same for the McCormack family,” the assertion stated.
Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah reopened the case in May, shortly after taking workplace.
Her workplace issued an announcement on Friday commending these concerned in securing the conviction, however a spokesperson stated the Westchester investigation “remains ongoing and we will have no further comment at this time”.
‘Sick old man’
Defence attorneys portrayed Durst, a most cancers survivor who testified from a wheelchair carrying a saggy jail uniform, as a “sick old man”. But he withstood 15 days as a witness, 9 of them underneath cross-examination.
During a 58-day trial unfold over a yr and a half, together with a one-year delay as a result of coronavirus pandemic, Durst testified that he found Berman’s murdered physique when he went to go to her however didn’t name the police.
The prosecution additionally delved into the 2001 demise and dismemberment of Morris Black, who was Durst’s neighbour 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 stated Black pulled a gun on him and was shot by chance when the 2 males wrestled over the firearm.
Black’s demise marked the second time Durst had a lifeless physique at his ft, in response to his testimony.
In each circumstances, Durst stated he at first tried to name the 911 emergency quantity, however later determined towards it, fearing no one would imagine he was not responsible.
Besides The Jinx audio, two different items of proof appeared to wreck Durst’s defence. One was the recorded 2017 testimony of Nick Chavin, a mutual buddy who stated Durst admitted to him in 2014 that he had killed Berman.
“It was her or me. I had no choice,” Chavin recounted Durst telling him.
Durst additionally admitted he authored a handwritten letter to Beverly Hills police with the phrase “cadaver” and Berman’s tackle, directing them to her undiscovered physique. Durst had denied writing the observe for 20 years.
Durst is the grandson of the founding father of The Durst Organization, one in all New York City’s premier actual property corporations.
He way back left the corporate, now run by his estranged brother Douglas Durst, who testified at trial and stated of his sibling: “He’d like to murder me.”