New York Property heir Robert Durst has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of being parole for the murder of his best friend more than two decades ago.
Durst, 78, was convicted in The angels Superior Court murder last month, primarily for shooting Susan Berman in the head at her home in December 2000.
Durst silenced Berman to prevent her from accusing him in the resumption of his wife’s disappearance in 1982 in New York, prosecutors said.
Berman gave a false alibi to Durst when Kathie Durst disappeared, prosecutors said.
Thirst testified that he did not kill any of the women, but said at cross-examination that he would lie if he had done so.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that he intentionally killed a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, in 2001, even though he had been acquitted in that case after testifying that he shot the man in self-defense.
Durst is the grandson of Joseph Durst, who founded the Durst Organization, one of Manhattan’s largest commercial real estate companies.
His father, Seymour, took the reins of the company and later handed over control of it to a younger brother, Douglas.
Durst determined his share of the family’s fortune and was estimated by prosecutors to have $ 100 million.
Durst’s lawyer said they plan to appeal.
Durst, who has many medical problems, was rolled into the courtroom for punishment in a wheelchair with a brown prison scrub.
His eyes were wide open and he had a catatonic look.
Several of the jury members returned to the courtroom to witness the verdict and sat in the jury box.
The trial began in March 2020 and was suspended for 14 months when the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States and the courts were closed.
It resumed in May with the jury reaching its verdict on September 17.
Kathie Durst has never been found. Durst has never been charged with a crime in connection with her disappearance.
But after his conviction in Berman’s death, which relies on evidence that he killed his wife, a New York prosecutor is now prepared to file charges against him in her death, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Durst’s family had hoped to be able to present statements to the court about their loss, but prosecutors denied the request, according to emails sent to their lawyer.
Attorney Robert Abrams said the family was disappointed and upset. He said family members would not attend the verdict.
“The family will not travel 3,000 miles to be a prop in any Hollywood production and sit there and not be able to make their victim impact,” Abrams said.
“This is not a movie where it’s a gross spectacle.
“This is their life, and they have suffered for 40 years.”
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office did not return a request for comment.
Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said it was doubtful Durst was a victim in the Los Angeles case because Durst was not accused of killing him.
Allowing their siblings to speak at the verdict would create another issue for appeal.
Defense attorneys argued in court papers that Durst deserved a new trial and said there was not enough evidence to prove the case and listed 15 ways in which the judge erred.
Judge Mark Windham dismissed the motion, saying the prosecution had overwhelming evidence and proved Durst’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in at least five ways, including several confessions made by Durst.
He rejected all the arguments that he had decided incorrectly.
“You said the court made mistakes so many times that it made me feel self-conscious,” Judge Windham said.
The motion was primarily to preserve issues for appeal and likely to fail, Levenson said, although some of their arguments could get the attention of a higher court.
The defense said Judge Windham should have explained a mistake when the jury was sent home and the case was adjourned.
They said the length of the delay was unparalleled.
They also protested against testimonies and exhibitions that showed that when Durst was arrested in New Orleans in 2015, he had a mask, false identification, drugs, $ 40,000 and a loaded gun in his hotel room.
They also opposed showing a jury a feature film, All good things based on Durst’s life and with Ryan Gosling as him and Kirsten Dunst as Mrs. Durst.
They wrongly said that the jurors were shown the six-part documentary, The Jinx: The Life and Crimes of Robert Durst, although jury members were shown excerpts, including some that many took as a confession.
In a moment from the camera but with a live microphone, Durst mumbled, “Killed them all, of course.”
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin was asked by a reporter after the conviction what he had to say to Durst.
Mr Lewin, who was aggressive and often scrapped with defense attorney Dick DeGuerin during the six years it took from arrest to sentencing, initially said he had nothing to say to the man he had persecuted for years.
He then called Durst a “narcissistic psychopath” who “killed his wife and … had to keep killing to hide it.”
“He’s 78 years old. He’s been around a long time,” Lewin said.
“He had a lot more life, you know, Kathie did not turn 30.
“Given what he has done, he got more life than he was entitled to.”