Robert Durst Sentenced to Life in Prison for Friend’s Murder

Nearly 4 many years after his spouse’s abrupt disappearance solid a cloud of suspicion that might make his case one of the infamous in the nation, Robert A. Durst was sentenced on Thursday to life in jail for the execution-style killing in 2000 of a detailed confidante.

The 78-year-old Mr. Durst, whose life story impressed a Hollywood film and an HBO documentary, won’t be eligible for parole. The jury that convicted him of first-degree murder in Los Angeles final month discovered that the prosecution had confirmed particular circumstances: Namely, that Mr. Durst shot Susan Berman, a journalist and screenwriter, as a result of he feared she was about to inform investigators what she had realized as his liaison with the information media following the 1982 disappearance of his first spouse, Kathie McCormack Durst.

For the primary time because the trial resumed in May, the courtroom was full on Thursday, with a lot of the jurors in attendance.

Mr. Durst, who sat slumped in a wheelchair, wore a brown jailhouse jumper and a surgical masks. He didn’t handle the decide, and due to his problem listening to, he adopted alongside by watching a pill show the phrases spoken in court docket.

“I was robbed, and my beautiful son was robbed, of an absolutely extraordinary brilliant person whose life was savagely taken,” Deni Marcus, certainly one of Ms. Berman’s cousins, mentioned throughout the 4 sufferer affect statements that had been delivered to the decide.

Another of Ms. Berman’s cousins, Dave Berman, fought again tears whereas saying, “I visited her and told her she could rest easy, that justice has been done.” He added that Mr. Durst ought to say the place Ms. Durst’s physique is so her household might get some closure.

Judge Mark E. Windham referred to as Ms. Berman’s loss of life a witness killing and “a horrific crime” that “was a denial of justice to the McCormack family.” Before announcing the sentence, he denied a request by the protection for a brand new trial, citing “overwhelming evidence of guilt.” The protection is anticipated to attraction.

Since his spouse vanished with no hint, Mr. Durst, born right into a household whose Manhattan actual property empire is valued immediately at about $eight billion, has led a peripatetic existence. He moved between New York, California and Texas, where he stood trial in 2003 for the murder and dismemberment of Morris Black, a person who lived throughout the corridor from him in a Galveston rooming home the place Mr. Durst was posing as a mute girl.

Mr. Durst claimed self-defense, and a jury acquitted him, regardless of his testimony about sitting in a pool of blood whereas carving up Mr. Morris’s physique.

Ms. Berman, who had been Mr. Durst’s shut pal for a few years, was discovered lifeless in her residence on the sting of Beverly Hills on Christmas Eve in 2000. After neighbors noticed her two canines working free, the police had been referred to as and located her again door open. Ms. Berman had been shot in the again of the pinnacle; there have been no indicators of compelled entry, and her purse sat untouched.

“I think she was kind of in love with Bobby,” Dave Berman mentioned in an interview earlier than the sentencing, including that Ms. Berman had met Mr. Durst when she was in journalism faculty in California. “She had him give her away at her wedding. There are more pictures of her hugging Bobby than of her and her husband.”

Even as Mr. Durst was sentenced on Thursday, the investigation of his spouse’s disappearance was shifting ahead as soon as once more.

Miriam E. Rocah, the district lawyer in Westchester County, N.Y., the place the couple lived in 1982, introduced this yr that her workplace had reopened the case. Prosecutors are interviewing witnesses and are anticipated to search a first-degree homicide indictment from a grand jury in the approaching week.

That may very well be a problem provided that there aren’t any witnesses, weapon, fingerprints or a physique.

Mr. Durst has acknowledged in the previous that he was a “bad husband” however has all the time insisted he didn’t kill his spouse. He additionally continued to deny involvement in Ms. Berman’s loss of life.

He may nonetheless be a free man if he had not, towards all recommendation from his legal professionals, talked and talked about both cases, offering investigators with a path of bread crumbs. He gave 20 hours of interviews containing many damaging admissions to the producers of the 2015 HBO documentary sequence “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” (The maker of the documentary had beforehand directed a film, “All Good Things,” starring Ryan Gosling as a personality primarily based on Mr. Durst.)

After he was arrested in New Orleans in 2015 and charged with Ms. Berman’s homicide, Mr. Durst gave a virtually three-hour interview to a Los Angeles deputy district lawyer, John Lewin. The talkative Mr. Durst can also be on report on tons of of jail telephone calls, making not-so-guarded statements that prosecutors used towards him in court docket.

The trial began in March 2020, simply earlier than the coronavirus pandemic introduced life throughout America to a halt. When testimony was set to resume in May, protection legal professionals referred to as the 14-month delay the longest adjournment that includes the identical jury in U.S. historical past.

After weeks of testimony, the jury deliberated for about seven and a half hours earlier than discovering Mr. Durst responsible final month. He was not in the courtroom for the decision; he was in quarantine, officers mentioned, after being uncovered to somebody who had examined constructive for the coronavirus.

After the decision, his spouse’s household issued an announcement calling for Mr. Durst to be prosecuted in her disappearance as properly. “Kathie,” they wrote, “is still waiting for justice.”

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