Jury reaches verdict in L.A. murder trial of Robert Durst By Reuters
By Daniel Trotta
(Reuters) – A California jury has reached a verdict in the murder trial of multimillionaire real estate heir Robert Durst, and the decision will be announced soon in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the court said in a statement on Friday.
Since Sept. 14, the nine-woman and three-man juries had been in session.
Los Angeles County prosecutors called Durst (78), a “narcissistic personality” who murdered his friend Susan Berman in 2000 to try and cover the disappearance his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst.
Durst, who was on trial in California for the murder of Berman, was not charged with any other crimes. However, prosecutors claimed that Durst murdered Berman, his wife and Berman over the course of 39 years. Durst also killed a Texas neighbor, who found his identity while Durst had been hiding from law enforcement.
Durst wasn’t ever charged despite being suspected in the disappearance his 29-year old wife. Prosecutors claimed that he murdered her and then killed Berman 18 years later, after she told others she was helping Durst to cover it up.
Durst is a survivor of frail cancer and uses a wheelchair. Defense lawyers portrayed him as “sick” to reference Durst’s assertion that he is autistic. After nine days of questioning Durst, prosecutors failed to provide any forensic evidence to link him to Berman’s murder. Berman was 55 years old and had been shot in her back at her Beverly Hills residence.
Six years ago, Durst made an apparent confession to the murder of Berman in “The Jinx” on HBO. Durst had been caught in the bathroom using a hot microphone and saying “What the heck did I do?” The trial began… Of course, he killed them all.
Durst testified that Berman was found dead when he came to see her. However, Durst did not notify police.
Durst, Durst’s Galveston Texas neighbor, was dismembered and killed in 2001. Durst was found not guilty of the murder charge by a Galveston jury. Durst did admit that he dismembered Black’s body, and then dumped it into Galveston Bay.
Durst, in Texas and in Los Angeles, testified that Black pulled out a gun and was accidentally shot when they wrestled for the gun in Durst’s apartment.
California’s prosecutors claimed that Durst killed Black after Black learned Durst’s identity, and may have tried to turn him in. Durst used an assumed name, disguised as a mute woman to avoid being caught by New York authorities who had just reopened his case regarding his missing wife.
His own testimony indicates that Black’s death was Durst’s second dead body.
Durst claimed that he tried calling the 911 emergency line at first, but then decided to abandon it. He was afraid no one would believe him, as he had been a victim of the murders of Black and Berman.
Durst was in a wheelchair and testified, sometimes in jail uniform, but other times in a suit jacket which would have been appropriate in his older, stronger days. Because of his weakened voice due to esophageal disease, Durst sounded very different from the New Yorker with confident accent seen in “The Jinx.”
A hard-of-hearing man, he often was able to read simultaneously the transcription of the questions onto a tablet.
Dick DeGuerin, the lead defense attorney tried to discredit the audio of “killed all”. He claimed it had been edited and kept for many years by the filmmakers before being turned over to authorities. Durst claimed that the microphone did not record Durst saying “They’ll all believe I” before uttering “killed all”.
Durst appeared to be weakened by the audio of “The Jinx”. Two other pieces were also recorded. The other was Nick Chavin’s 2017 recorded testimony, which Durst claimed he admitted to in 2014.
I had to. Either she or I. Chavin told Durst that he had given him no other choice after a dinner in a New York City eatery.
Durst admitted that he wrote a handwritten note to Beverly Hills police directing them towards her undiscovered body. It contained the words “cadaver” as well as Berman’s postal address. Durst denied that he had written the note over 20 years, but he resigned before the testimony started when he was confronted with the evidence.
Durst is Joseph Durst’s grandson and the son of Seymour Durst. He built The Durst Organization, one of New York City’s most prestigious real estate firms that has created some of Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers.
Robert Durst left the firm, which is now managed by Douglas Durst his brother, long before he was arrested. Durst testified about his sister at trial, saying that he would like to kill him.