Robert Durst, actual property tycoon convicted of homicide, dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert Durst, the rich New York actual property inheritor and failed fugitive dogged for many years with suspicion within the disappearance and deaths of these round him earlier than he was convicted final yr of killing his finest buddy, has died. He was 78.

Durst died of pure causes Monday in a hospital exterior the California jail the place he was serving a life sentence, in keeping with the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Durst had been held in a hospital lockup in Stockton as a result of a litany of illnesses.

Durst was convicted in September of capturing Susan Berman at point-blank vary at her Los Angeles residence 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 a long time later.

However solely after Los Angeles prosecutors proved he silenced Berman to forestall her from telling police she helped cowl up Kathie’s killing was Durst indicted by a New York grand jury in November for second-degree homicide in his spouse’s demise.

Westchester County prosecutors, who had been attempting to get Durst transferred there to face the cost, stated they deliberate to disclose new particulars in regards to the case in coming days.

“After 40 years spent searching for justice for her demise, I understand how upsetting this information should be for Kathleen Durst’s household,” District Legal professional Miriam Rocah stated in a press release. “We had hoped to permit them the chance to see Mr. Durst lastly face expenses for Kathleen’s homicide as a result of we all know that every one households by no means cease wanting closure, justice and accountability.”

Los Angeles prosecutors advised jurors Durst additionally obtained away with homicide in Texas after capturing a person who found his id when he was hiding out in Galveston in 2001. Durst was acquitted of homicide in that case in 2003, after testifying he shot the person as they struggled for a gun.

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

Durst’s undoing was largely as a result of his hubris.

After beating the cost in Texas, in a bid to rehabilitate his picture, he reached out to filmmakers who had portrayed his life — not favorably — within the 2010 massive display function, “All Good Issues,” starring Ryan Gosling as Durst. He provided to sit down down for a sequence of prolonged interviews about his life.

It was a call he advised jurors he deeply regretted.

Durst, who later stated he was utilizing methamphetamine in the course of the interviews, made a number of damning statements together with a surprising 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 recognized to a brand new era and introduced renewed scrutiny and suspicion from authorities.

The night time earlier than the ultimate episode aired, Durst was arrested in Berman’s killing whereas hiding out below an alias in a New Orleans resort, the place he was caught with a gun, greater than $40,000 money and a head-to-shoulders latex masks for a presumed getaway.

The finale’s climax got here with him mumbling to himself in a toilet 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 — carried out in opposition to the recommendation of Durst’s attorneys and associates — dredged up new proof together with an envelope that related him to the scene of Berman’s killing in addition to incriminating statements he made.

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

In interviews given between 2010 and 2015, Durst advised the makers of the “The Jinx” that he didn’t write the be aware, however whoever did had killed her.

“You’re writing a be aware to the police that solely the killer might have written,” Durst stated.

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

Clips from “The Jinx,” and “All Good Issues” had starring roles at trial.

As did Durst himself. He took the chance of once more taking 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 Lewin, Durst admitted he lied below oath prior to now and would do it once more to dodge hassle.

“‘Did you kill Susan Berman?’ is strictly a hypothetical,” Durst stated 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 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, Black, started washing up in Galveston Bay.

Arrested within the killing, Durst jumped bail. He was caught 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 later quipped that he was “the worst fugitive the world has ever met.”

He would testify that Black had pulled a gun on him and died when the weapon went off throughout a battle.

He advised jurors intimately how he purchased instruments and downed a bottle of Jack Daniels earlier than dismembering Black’s physique and tossing it out to sea. Whereas he was cleared 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 in the course of the Berman trial. He was escorted into court docket in a wheelchair sporting jail apparel every day as a result of his attorneys stated he was unable to vary right into a swimsuit. However the choose declined additional delays after a 14-month pause in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

At his sentencing, Durst entered the courtroom with a wide-eyed vacant stare. Legal professional Dick DeGuerin stated he was “very, very sick” — the worst he seemed within the 20 years he spent representing him.

Close to the top of the listening to after Berman’s family members advised the choose that her demise upended their lives, Durst coughed onerous and appeared to battle to breathe. His chest heaved and he pulled his masks down under his mouth to gulp for air.

He was hospitalized two days later with COVID-19 and DeGuerin stated he was on a ventilator. However Durst apparently recovered and was transferred to state jail the place mug pictures confirmed no signal of a ventilator.

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 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.

Durst broke ties together with his household, reaching a settlement with a household belief. He was estimated to have a fortune of about $100 million.

Douglas Durst testified at trial that he feared his brother needed to kill him.

“Bob lived a tragic, painful and tragic life,” he stated in a press release Monday. “We hope his demise brings some closure to these he harm.”

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 buddy’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 advised police he final noticed her when he put her on a practice to remain at their condominium in Manhattan as a result of she had lessons the following day.

Prosecutors stated Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, posed as Kathie Durst to name Albert Einstein School of Drugs the following morning to say she was sick and would not be at her hospital rotation. The decision offered an alibi for Robert Durst as a result of it made it seem his spouse made it safely to Manhattan after he noticed her.

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

Kathie McCormack Durst’s household stated they plan to offer an replace on Jan. 31 — the fortieth anniversary of her disappearance — into an investigation of others who helped cowl up her killing, lawyer Robert Abrams stated.

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 below enchantment, stated Laurie Levenson, a legislation professor at Loyola Regulation College.

Legal professional Chip Lewis stated Durst had appealed.


Related Press author Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed.

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