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Monday, October 25, 2021

Robert Durst: ‘The Jinx’ star jailed for life without parole for best friend’s murder

US real estate heir Robert Durst has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of his best friend more than two decades ago.

Durst, 78, was convicted in a Los Angeles court last month of shooting Susan Berman in the back of the head at her home in December 2000.

The trial – which began in March last year but was adjourned for 14 months due to the coronavirus pandemic – came six years after Durst’s apparent confession to multiple killings in the HBO TV series The Jinx.

Prosecutors said that Ms Berman had helped him provide a false alibi in relation to the disappearance of his wife Kathleen McCormack in 1982.

It was alleged that he killed Ms Berman to prevent her from revealing this to police.

Durst, a cancer survivor who uses a wheelchair, spent 15 days testifying during the trial, claiming he had found his friend’s body when he went to visit her.

While Durst, believed to be worth $100m (£73m), was only on trial for killing Ms Berman, prosecutors believe he murdered two others – his wife, and a neighbour in Texas who discovered his identity while he was hiding from police.

Durst has never been charged in the disappearance of Ms McCormack, who was a 29-year-old medical student when she vanished.

He has long been a suspect and Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah reopened the case in May.

Durst is charged only with the murder of his friend Susan Berman in 2000. Pic: AP
Image:
Durst was convicted of murdering his friend Susan Berman in 2000. Pic: AP

Regarding the murder and dismemberment of Texas neighbour Morris Black in 2001, Durst was tried but acquitted.

He had claimed Mr Black was shot accidentally when the two men fought over a gun.

Durst had still been wearing a live microphone after his interview in the HBO TV series and was heard saying to himself in the bathroom: “What the hell did I do? … Killed them all, of course”.

Lead prosecutor John Lewin said the interviews in The Jinx had helped to make the case against Durst.

Durst is the grandson of Joseph Durst, who founded the Durst Organisation, one of Manhattan’s largest commercial property firms.

His father, Seymour, took control of the company and later gave it to a younger brother, Douglas.

Douglas Durst told jurors he had not seen his brother in 20 years and they had not spoken since 1999, adding: “He’d like to murder me”.

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