Robert Durst, a New York real estate heir, was sentenced to life in prison in the Los Angeles County courtroom by China for the 2000 murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman following a long, polished legal bag.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham also rejected a motion to defend the new trial. He said they were planning to appeal the decision.
Durst, 78, lying in a wheelchair and wearing a dark prison uniform, was sentenced last month for first-degree murder and shooting for a Berman point-blank at his home in Los Angeles just before Christmas. Prosecutors said he killed her in an attempt to calm her down, as she had to talk to authorities about how she gave a lie to Durst after his first wife died in 1982.
Kathie Durst went missing from South Salem, NY, of the couple and was pronounced dead, although her body has never been found. Durst has never been charged in his disappearance.
Several of the judges who indicted Durst were present in court when the verdict was handed down. Durst declined to comment on the distribution.
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Several of Berman’s loved ones made statements during Thursday. Sareb Kaufman, who was raised by Berman and adopted him, said his death changed his life.
Susan Berman’s granddaughter, Denny Marcus, told the judge: “I was robbed and my beautiful son was abducted by a strange, unforgettable man whose life was taken from him.”
“I will never hate Bobby because they loved him,” he added.
Instead of witnesses, Durst who appeared to be weak said he found Berman dead in his apartment but denied that he was present at the time of his death. Under interrogation, he testified that he lied if he had killed him.
During his trial, prosecutors gave evidence that they say Durst killed his wife in their home in an attempt to justify Berman’s murder. They also brought evidence from a previous trial in which Durst was acquitted of shooting dead a neighbor in Galveston, Texas.
Durst had been hiding in Texas to avoid prosecution after investigators reopened the case of his missing wife, prosecutors said. He was living in a boarding house under the name when he killed Morris Black.
He was later acquitted of murder but convicted of tampering with evidence of taking Black’s body and throwing it into the sea. Prosecutors said Black was killed after discovering Durst’s truth.
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His health deteriorated in recent years and Durst was confined to a wheelchair during his trial. When the verdict was announced, he was not in court because he was being held in solitary confinement after being exposed to COVID-19.
The trial begins in March 2020 but has been adjourned due to the epidemic and resumed in May.
The ruling came years after Durst took part in the 2015 HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Lives and Crimes of Robert Durst.” In the last episode, Durst was on top of a hot machine saying: “What did I do? I killed them all, yes.”
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He later said that there was a misunderstanding and that he was speaking softly to the mic if it failed to produce what he thought. Westchester County, New York prosecutors are planning to file a grand jury in the coming weeks to hear evidence against Durst in the disappearance of Kathie Durst.