Robert Durst was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of friend Susan Berman

Robert Durst has been sentenced to life in prison without a suspended sentence for the murder of his friend Susan Berman at her home in Beverly Hills.

The 78-year-old heir was convicted last month of shooting Berman, 55, in the back of the head in December 2000.

A jury also found him guilty of the special circumstances of lying and waiting and killing a witness, who in California carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of early release.

Prosecutors told his trial that Durst killed Berman because she knew too much about his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst disappearing in 1982.

Ms Durst has never been found since she disappeared in New York in 1982 and he has never been prosecuted for her death.

The court was told that Berman had provided a false alibi for Durst in 1982 and that he feared she would reveal this to the authorities.

Court of Appeal Judge Mark Windham, who led the trial and sentenced Durst in Los Angeles County on Thursday, described the murder as “terrible and disturbing.”

Durst, who appeared at his sentencing in prison uniform, testified in his own defense for 15 days, with prosecutors telling the jury that he had lied or changed his story several times.

It was held six years after he starred in the HBO documentary series Jinxen, where he seemed to admit several murders.

During the filming of the series, Durst was caught on a live microphone muttering to himself: “What the hell was I doing? Killed them all, of course. ”

Andrew Jarecki, the filmmaker behind The Jinx, was present in court for Durst’s sentence.

The New York-born heir was arrested in Louisiana the day before the show’s final episode aired, carrying cash, a gun and a map of Cuba. He denied killing Ms Berman but admitted that he discovered her body and failed to report it because he felt no one would believe he had not killed her.

Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian told the trial that Durst had told a “fantastic story” to divert from his guilt in the case.

– This was an Olympic year. If there was an event to run from the truth, he would be at the top of the podium, he says.

During the trial, lawyers saw a latex mask worn by Durst when police arrested him.

(AP)

Durst was charged only with killing Berman, but prosecutors claim he also murdered his wife and a neighbor in Texas while hiding from police in 2001.

He has admitted to killing his neighbor and dismembered the body but argued for self-defense and was acquitted.

Following the verdict for killing Ms Berman, District Attorney John Lewin Durst called him a “narcissistic psychopath” who “killed his wife and … must continue to kill to hide it.”

And he added: “He is 78 years old. He’s been around a long time. He had a lot more of a life, you know, Kathie did not get 30. Given what he did, he got a lot more life than he was entitled to. ”

At the verdict, Durst’s lawyers heard an application for a new trial, which the judge denied. His lawyers said they intended to appeal, but Durst himself declined an opportunity to speak to the court.

“Susan Berman was an extraordinary person, I wish I could have known her,” Judge Windham said in sentencing.

“I feel that I got to know her as a substitute, far too late and in terrible circumstances. Killing her was a terrible loss to our society and this is a terrible crime, it was a testimony and the circumstances of that crime were a denial of justice for the McCormack family.

– The murder of Susan Berman closed all chances for justice. That circumstance is a special circumstance and in this case it was an extremely aggravated and terrible, disturbing crime. ”

Before the verdicts, members of Berman’s family sentenced the court to the consequences of her murder.

Sareb Kaufman, her godson, who called Mrs. Berman his mother, described her death as an “incredible disaster.”

“I have not had a day off in 21 years from the absolute destruction, grief and pain this has caused me,” he told the court.

And he asked Durst to tell the McCormack family where Kathie’s body had been left.

“I ask in Susan’s memory and on behalf of some of you who do not want to be seen as the monster you see now … let them know where they can find Kathie.”

Prosecutor John Lewin also told the court that Berman had helped Durst hide the murder of his wife, but that she did not know it was a murder.

“Susan Berman does not hide what is described to her as a murder, Bob Durst probably told her it was some kind of accident, false not true, and Susan Berman loved Bob and trusted that Bob decided to help,” he said.

“She made the mistake that many other people in his life made, and that was to trust Bob.”

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