Robert Durst, actual property inheritor convicted of homicide, dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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 Monday in a state jail hospital facility in Stockton, lawyer Chip Lewis mentioned. He mentioned the demise was from pure causes resulting from a lot of illnesses.

Durst was convicted in September of taking pictures Susan Berman at point-blank vary at her Los Angeles house in 2000. He was sentenced Oct. 14 to life in jail with out parole.

Durst had lengthy been suspected of killing his spouse, Kathie, who went lacking in New York 1982 and was declared legally useless.

However solely after Los Angeles prosecutors proved that the motive in Berman’s demise was to silence her as a result of she helped him cowl up Kathie’s killing was he indicted by a New York grand jury in November for second-degree homicide in his spouse’s demise.

Los Angeles prosecutors informed jurors that Durst acquired away with homicide in Texas after taking pictures a person who found his id when he was hiding out in Galveston after Berman’s killing. Durst was acquitted of homicide in that case in 2003, after testifying he shot the person as they struggled for a gun.

Deputy Los Angeles District Legal professional John Lewin mentioned jurors informed him after the decision that they believed Durst murdered Morris Black in Texas and had killed his spouse.

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

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

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

Police had obtained a word directing them to Berman’s house 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 didn’t write the word, however whoever did had killed her.

“You’re writing a word to the police that solely the killer may have written,” Durst mentioned.

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

Clips from “The Jinx,” and from the 2010 film “All Good Issues” by 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 didn’t work because it had in Texas.

Underneath devastating cross-examination by prosecutor John Lewin, Durst admitted he lied underneath oath prior to now and would do it once more to get out of bother.

“‘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’d 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 condominium in Galveston and disguising himself as a mute lady.

In 2001, the physique elements 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 varsity. 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 had bladder most cancers and his well being deteriorated throughout the Berman trial. He was escorted into courtroom in a wheelchair sporting jail apparel every day as a result of his attorneys mentioned he was unable to vary right into a go well with. However the decide declined additional delays after a 14-month pause throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Durst entered the courtroom with wide-eyed vacant stare. Close to the top of the listening to after Berman’s family members informed the decide 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 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 house.

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 grew to become a developer within the household enterprise, however his father handed him over to make his youthful brother, and rival, Douglas the top 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 closing 12 months at medical college 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 house in South Salem, New York.

Robert Durst informed police he final noticed her when he put her on a prepare to remain at their condominium in Manhattan as a result of she had lessons 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.

Underneath California legislation, a conviction is vacated if a defendant dies whereas the case is underneath attraction, mentioned Laurie Levenson, a legislation professor at Loyola Regulation College.

Lewis mentioned an attraction was filed for Durst.


Related Press author Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed.

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