By | January 10, 2022


Robert Durst is sentenced on Oct. 14, 2021, in Los Angeles. Durst was sentenced to life with out the potential for parole for the 2000 homicide of Susan Berman.

Myung J. Chun/Pool/Getty Pictures


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Myung J. Chun/Pool/Getty Pictures


Robert Durst is sentenced on Oct. 14, 2021, in Los Angeles. Durst was sentenced to life with out the potential for parole for the 2000 homicide of Susan Berman.

Myung J. Chun/Pool/Getty Pictures

LOS ANGELES — Robert Durst, the rich New York actual property inheritor and failed fugitive who was dogged for many years with suspicion within the disappearance and deaths of these round him earlier than he was convicted of killing his finest good friend and sentenced to life in jail, has died. He was 78.

Durst died in a state jail hospital facility in Stockton, his lawyer Chip Lewis mentioned. He mentioned it was from pure causes attributable to quite a lot of well being points.

Durst was convicted in September of taking pictures Susan Berman at point-blank vary in 2000 at her Los Angeles residence. He was sentenced to life Oct. 14. Two days later, he was hospitalized with COVID-19, his trial lawyer Dick DeGuerin mentioned.

Durst had lengthy been suspected of killing his spouse, Kathie, who went lacking in 1982 and has been declared legally useless. He was lastly indicted in November for second-degree homicide in her demise.

The twists of the instances in opposition to him

Prosecutors in Los Angeles offered proof Durst silenced Berman as a result of she helped him cowl up Kathie’s killing and was about to speak to investigators. Additionally they argued he killed a Texas man who found his identification when he was residing secretly in Galveston after Berman’s killing. Durst was acquitted of homicide in that case in 2003, after testifying he shot him in self-defense.

Durst mentioned the instances and made a number of damning statements together with a shocking confession throughout an unguarded second in the six-part HBO documentary sequence “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”

The present made his title identified to a brand new technology and introduced renewed scrutiny and suspicion from authorities. He was arrested in Berman’s killing the evening earlier than the ultimate episode, which closed with him mumbling to himself in a rest room whereas nonetheless carrying scorching mic saying: “You are caught! What the hell did I do? Killed all of them, in fact.”

The quotes have been later revealed to have been manipulated for dramatic impact however the manufacturing – executed with Durst’s cooperation in opposition to the recommendation from his lawyer and associates – dredged up new proof together with an envelope that related Durst to the scene of Berman’s killing in addition to incriminating statements he made.

Police had acquired a notice directing them to Berman’s residence with solely the phrase “CADAVER” written in block letters.

In interviews given between 2010 and 2015, Durst informed the makers of the “The Jinx” that he did not write the notice, however whoever did had killed her.

“You are writing a notice to the police that solely the killer might have written,” Durst mentioned.

His protection attorneys conceded within the run-up to trial that Durst had written the notice, and prosecutors mentioned it amounted to a confession.

How the trial unfolded

Clips from “The Jinx,” and from the 2010 film “All Good Issues” during which Ryan Gosling performed a fictionalized model of Durst, had starring roles at trial.

As did Durst himself. His attorneys once more took the chance of placing him on the stand for what turned out to be about three weeks of testimony. It did not work because it had in Texas.

Beneath devastating cross-examination by prosecutor John Lewin, Durst admitted he lied below oath up to now and would do it once more to get out of hassle.

” ‘Did you kill Susan Berman?’ is strictly a hypothetical,” Durst mentioned from the stand. “I didn’t kill Susan Berman. But when I had, I might lie about it.”

The jury promptly returned a responsible verdict.

It lengthy appeared he would keep away from any such convictions.

Durst went on the run in late 2000 after New York authorities reopened an investigation into his spouse’s disappearance, renting a modest condo in Galveston and disguising himself as a mute lady.

In 2001, the physique components of a neighbor, Morris Black, started washing up in Galveston Bay.

Arrested within the killing, Durst jumped bail. He was arrested for shoplifting a sandwich six weeks later in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the place he had gone to school. Police discovered $37,000 money and two handguns in his automotive.

He would testify that Black had pulled a gun on him and died when the weapon went off throughout a wrestle. He informed jurors intimately how he purchased instruments and dismembered and disposed of Black’s physique. He was acquitted of homicide. He pleaded responsible to violating his bail, and to proof tampering for the dismemberment. He served three years in jail.

Durst’s well being points

Durst had bladder most cancers and his well being deteriorated in the course of the Berman trial. He was escorted into court docket in a wheelchair carrying jail apparel every day as a result of his attorneys mentioned he was unable to vary right into a go well with. However the choose declined additional delays after a 14-month pause in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

DeGuerin mentioned Durst was “very, very sick” at his sentencing listening to and it was the worst he regarded within the 20 years he spent representing him.

Durst entered the courtroom with wide-eyed vacant stare. Close to the tip of the listening to after Berman’s family members informed the choose how her demise upended their lives, Durst coughed arduous after which appeared to wrestle to breathe. His chest heaved and he pulled his masks down under his mouth and started to gulp for air.

The inheritor’s upbringing

The son of actual property magnate Seymour Durst, Robert Durst was born April 12, 1943, and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. He would later say that at age 7, he witnessed his mom’s demise in a fall from their residence.

He graduated with an economics diploma in 1965 from Lehigh College, the place he performed lacrosse. He entered a doctoral program on the College of California, Los Angeles, the place he met Berman, however dropped out and returned to New York in 1969.

He turned a developer within the household enterprise, however his father handed him over to make his youthful brother, and rival, Douglas the pinnacle of the Durst Group in 1992.

In 1971, Robert Durst met Kathie McCormack, and the 2 married on his thirtieth birthday in 1973.

In January 1982, his spouse was a pupil in her last yr at medical faculty when she disappeared. She had proven up unexpectedly at a good friend’s feast in Newtown, Connecticut, then left after a name from her husband to return to their residence in South Salem, New York.

Robert Durst informed police he final noticed her when he put her on a practice to remain at their condo in Manhattan as a result of she had courses the following day.

He would divorce her eight years later, claiming spousal abandonment, and in 2017, at her household’s request, she was declared legally useless.

Robert Durst is survived by his second spouse Debrah Charatan, whom he married in 2000. He had no kids.

Beneath California legislation, a conviction is vacated if a defendant dies whereas the case is below attraction, mentioned Laurie Levenson, a legislation professor at Loyola Legislation College.

Lewis mentioned an attraction was filed for Durst.

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