New York real estate heir Robert Durst on Thursday was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a friend more than 20 years ago, in a slaying possibly tied to the killer’s missing wife.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham handed down that punishment one month after jurors convicted Durst, 78, of first-degree murder for the Dec. 23, 2000, death of Susan Berman. Berman was shot in the back of her head at point-blank range inside her Benedict Canyon house.
Durst’s lawyers stated at Thursday’s sentencing that they intend to appeal.
Prior to her murder in 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.
After Berman was killed, 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.
Claiming self-defense, Durst was acquitted of the September 2001 killing of his neighbor Morris Black, despite admitting to dismembering his body.
Then in a 2015 HBO documentary series, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” Durst appeared to confess to the slayings. He went to the toilet while wearing a microphone that recorded him saying: “You’re captured!” What is the matter with me? Of course, I killed them all. “
Berman’s relatives passionately spoke out about the effect she and her murder had on them in statements prior to Durst’s sentencing.
Denny Marcus called Berman, her cousin, an “absolutely extraordinary, unforgettable, brilliant person whose life was savagely taken from her at 55 when she had many years ahead. “
” I know she has her hand here, she’s right there, and she knows that she would do anything to help me,” Marcus stated. Berman taught her that hate serves no purpose, so she couldn’t hate Durst. “
Berman’s stepson, Sareb, stated that she should have worked for a career that was worthy of her pride, such as finding love, marriage, and children. Instead, I was forced into paying for bills and memorials that weren’t mine. I had to spend as much time as I could without feeling helpless or in tears. “
Kaufman was another Berman cousin and David Berman was also involved in the request to Durst for information about Kathie Durst.
“Let’s find out where Kathie Durst’s body is so that her family can have closure,” David Berman stated.
” I hope that you’ll come to the same conclusion and give the McCormicks the little they need: to find Kathie.” Kaufman stated. “To finally and properly lay her to sleep. This is the most important question. It’s the only way you can give any value to anyone or influence their opinions. “
“In telling where Kathie is, perhaps you could find some small redemption in an act of humanity,” Kaufman said.
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
Tim Fitzsimons is a reporter for NBC News. he/him