Real-estate scion Robert Durst was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in California on Friday for killing a close friend over 20 years ago. The crime is one of three murders Durst is suspected of over nearly four decades — all of which he apparently confessed to in the HBO documentary series The Jinx six years ago. The verdict, which jurors delivered after seven and a half hours of deliberation, was read without Durst present. The 78-year-old millionaire was in isolation in jail after being exposed to COVID-19.
In their case, Los Angeles County prosecutors alleged that Durst had shot his longtime friend, Susan Berman, in the back of the head in 2000 in order to prevent her from coming forward with her knowledge of how Durst had murdered his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, in New York in 1982. Prosecutors said Durst had confessed his crime to Berman, and one of Berman’s friends testified that she had told her she had provided a fake alibi to police for Durst on the night of the murder of his wife.
Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who presided over the five-month trial, said on Friday that it was “the most extraordinary trial that I’ve ever seen or even heard about.” Durst’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 18. He faces a mandatory minimum life sentence without the possibility of parole, since jurors agreed with prosecutors that Durst’s crime met “special circumstances” under California law — including how Durst had laid in wait for his victim armed with a firearm, and had murdered a witness to a crime.