LOS ANGELES — On Friday, a Los Angeles jury convicted Robert Durst, a New York real estate heir, of shooting down a friend over two decades ago. Authorities believe the killing was linked to Durst’s missing wife.
The panel had been deliberating since Tuesday afternoon when it came back with the guilty verdict for first-degree murder in the slaying of Susan Berman on Dec. 23, 2000.
Berman had been scheduled to speak to police about a fake alibi she allegedly gave Durst when his wife disappeared in New York in 1982, prosecutors said.
Kathie Durst has never been found, and no charges have ever been brought in connection with her disappearance.
Durst, 78, was not present in court when the verdict was read because he is in isolation after being possibly exposed to Covid-19.
Friday’s verdict wrapped up a trial that began with jurors first hearing evidence in March 2020. They were forced to take a 14-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic. Proceedings began again in May.
In closing arguments, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Lewin told jurors they had to hold Durst accountable for Berman’s slaying.
“Bob Durst doesn’t seem crazy. He said that he is not a serial killer or nut job who kills for the thrill of killing.” “Don’t let this narcissistic psychopath get away with what he’s done.”
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement that “the jury’s decision demonstrates how our legal system can work to hold accountable people regardless of their wealth and status in life. “
Sentencing is set for Oct. 18 in Los Angeles.
After Berman’s death, Durst fell off the grid and landed in Galveston, Texas, where he assumed the name Dorothy Ciner and regularly wore a woman’s wig, dresses and high heels.
Durst was acquitted of the September 2001 killing of his neighbor, Morris Black, despite admitting to chopping up his body, placing the remains in plastic garbage bags and throwing them into Galveston Bay. Durst claimed self defense, claiming that Black was shot while they struggled over a gun.
While being interviewed, a microphone was attached to his head. He was going to the toilet. The microphone recorded him saying to himself, “You’re captured!” What is the matter with me? Of course, I killed them all. Douglas Durst, Durst’s brother, expressed hope that the conviction will bring some relief to those whom Robert Durst had hurt.
“Today our thoughts are with Robert’s victims,” Douglas Durst stated. “The jury’s conviction holds him accountable and, hopefully, brings a measure of closure, to the families and friends of the people Robert has hurt.”
Kathie Durst’s family called for prosecutors in Westchester County, New York, to charge Robert Durst in her death.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” the McCormack family said in a statement after the verdict. The McCormack family still awaits justice, even though Durst was rightly convicted for the murder of Susan Berman, who helped him hide the truth about Kathie’s death. Kathie still awaits justice. “