Robert Durst: Real estate heir convicted of murder after two decades of legal spotlight

The real estate heir became a national sensation after seeming to admit to his crimes in HBO’s ‘The Jinx’

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Saturday 18 September 2021 08:31
Prosecutors finish questioning Robert Durst

Real estate heir Robert Durst, long suspected of killing his friend in an execution-style shooting in Beverly Hills in 2000, has been convicted of murder.

Speculation around the case reached a fever pitch in 2015, after Durst seemed to admit to the killings in HBO’s 2015 docuseries ‘The Jinx.’

The 78-year-old was convicted of the first-degree murder of Susan Berman and could be sentenced to life in prison.

Durst faces a mandatory term of life in prison without parole when sentenced on 18 October.

"Bob Durst has been around a lot of years, and he’s been able to commit a lot of horrific crimes," Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said outside the Inglewood Courthouse. "Considering what he’s done, he got a lot more of a life than he was entitled to."

Durst, who is sick and frail and sat throughout the trial in a wheelchair, was not present when the verdict was read. He was in isolation at a jail because he was exposed to someone with coronavirus, an odd twist on the jury’s final day.

The jury found Durst ambushed Berman and killed her because she was a witness to a crime, which prosecutors said was the suspected killing of Kathie Durst, who has never been found. Berman was shot at point-blank range in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home in December 2000.

Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, was Durst’s longtime confidante who, at the time of her death, was prepared to tell police she provided a phony alibi for him after his wife vanished.

Prosecutors painted a portrait of a rich narcissist who didn’t think the laws applied to him and ruthlessly disposed of people who stood in his way. They interlaced evidence of Berman’s killing, Kathie Durst’s disappearance and the 2001 killing of Morris Black, a tenant in a Texas flophouse where Robert Durst holed up while on the run from New York authorities.

"He killed his wife and then he had to keep killing to cover it up," Lewin said.

Lewin, who met with jurors after the verdict, said they believed prosecutors proved Durst killed Kathie Durst and murdered Berman and Black.

The defense said they believed there was "substantial reasonable doubt" and were disappointed in the verdict, attorney David Chesnoff said. He said Durst would pursue all avenues of appeal.

With reporting from AP