Robert Durst, a New York real estate heir, was sentenced Thursday to life imprisonment without parole for the murder of his close friend over two decades ago.
Durst, now 78, was convicted by Los Angeles Superior Court of first-degree murder in connection to the shooting of Susan Berman in the head in December 2000.
Durst was a victim of a murder that had haunted his family and friends for over 15 years. He was finally arrested in 2015 after he made a foolish decision to take part in a documentary which uncovered new evidence and captured him in an astonishing confession.
Family members will always remember Berman Thursday as an adventurous, creative, loyal and loving person.
Sareb Kaufman said that Berman was his mother because he dated her. He has made me lose everything.
Durst, who had multiple medical issues, sat in a wheelchair and was wearing brown jail scrubs. He said nothing. He stared at Kaufman, three Berman cousins, with wide eyes and an uncharacteristic catatonic look.
Prosecutors said Durst silenced Berman in order to stop her incriminating him during the reopened investigation into his wife’s disappearance in New York in 1982.
Prosecutors said that Berman gave Durst a fake alibi when Kathie Durst disappeared.
Durst claimed he didn’t kill any of the women, but he stated on cross-examination he would lie to prove it.
Prosecutors also provided evidence that he intended to kill a neighbor in Galveston Texas in 2001. However, he was acquitted in that case. He testified that he shot the man in self defense and then panicked, chopped up and tossed the body out to sea.
Dick DeGuerin, a defense lawyer, said Durst would appeal and that he resisted making any other comments.
Judge Mark Windham denied a motion to retry the case, rejecting arguments that there was not enough evidence or that he had ruled incorrectly over 15 issues.
Windham laughed, “You said that the court erred so often it made me feel self conscious.”
Windham was found guilty by overwhelming evidence. Prosecutors proved his guilt at least five times, including the shocking revelations Durst made during cross-examination. He also admitted to the crime in “The Jinx: The Life & Crimes of Robert Durst” which is the culmination of six-part documentary.
Durst was caught lying about a note he wrote directing Berman’s police to Berman’s dead body. He then went to a bathroom and said to himself, “You’re captured.”
Berman was confronted by filmmakers with a note that police had received. It contained Berman’s address, but only the word “cadaver.” The note was addressed in block letters and mispelled Beverly Hills as Beverly Hills.
Durst claimed that only the murderer could have written it. It wasn’t him. The letter was written by Durst in the same handwriting as Berman’s and Beverly had the same spelling.
Durst stated that he regrets having participated in the documentary.
Kaufman’s mid-20s saw Berman’s death and he was forced to take care of the estate. He claimed that he spent months packing her house and then returned to the crime scene, where her matted hair was still there among the bloody paw prints from her dogs.
Although he was bitter about the experience of having to store her belongings inside his tiny apartment, he didn’t mention that there was that critical piece of evidence: the letter verifying a match with the “cadaver” note.
The trial started in March 2020, but was halted for 14 months due to the outbreak of coronavirus virus. Courts were also closed. The trial resumed in May, with the jury reaching its Sept. 17 verdict.
Seven jurors were able to return to the scene and witness the sentencing.
Durst was longtime confidante of Berman, the daughter a Las Vegas mobster, and a writer. Durst and her friends were told by Berman that she was ready to talk with police about the reinvestigation for his wife’s disappearance just before she was murdered.
Kathie Durst was never found. Robert Durst was never charged with any crime in connection to Kathie Durst’s disappearance.
However, he was convicted in Berman’s murder, based on evidence that he had killed his wife. A New York prosecutor is now ready to pursue charges against him in her death. This was according to a source familiar with the matter, who, although not authorized to speak out publicly about ongoing investigations, did so under condition of anonymity.
Kathie McCormack Durst’s family wanted to make statements before the court on Thursday regarding their loss. However, prosecutors rejected the request according to emails sent by their lawyer.
Robert Abrams, Attorney, was present at the hearing. McCormack’s family was dissatisfied, and Abrams was furious.
Abrams stated that the family was not going to travel 3,000 miles to become a prop in a Hollywood production. “This isn’t a movie about a gross spectacle. This is their life, and they have suffered for 40 years.”
John Lewin, Kaufman, and other Deputy District Attorneys pleaded with Durst to inform the McCormack Family where she was buried.
Kaufman stated, “I hope that in your last days and hours, you will… give McCormacks the little they are asking: to find Kathie and to lay her to bed appropriately, finally, and at long last.” “This is the most important question we still have to answer.”
Durst is Joseph Durst’s grandson. He founded the Durst Organization in Manhattan, which is one of the largest commercial real-estate firms in Manhattan. It is believed to have a fortune of $100 million.
Davy Berman, the cousin of her deceased father, claimed that he had visited her grave before the sentencing.
He said, “I visited her and assured her she could rest easily,” as his voice crackled. “That justice was done.”