Robert Durst was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of a friend in 2000 – National

New York real estate Robert Durst was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison without the risk of a suspended sentence for the murder of his best friend more than two decades ago.

Durst, 78, was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court last month of first-degree murder for shooting Susan Berman in the head at her home in December 2000.

The murder had been a mystery that haunted family and friends for 15 years before Durst was arrested in 2015 after his well-thought-out decision to participate in a documentary that revealed new evidence and captured him in a fantastic confession.

Berman’s death left a permanent hole in the lives of family members who remembered her Thursday for her adventurousness, her creativity and her deep and loyal love.

“It has been a daily, soul-consuming and crushing experience,” said Sareb Kaufman, who viewed Berman as his mother after his father met her. “I’ve lost everything many times because of him.”

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Property heir Robert Durst was convicted of the murder of his friend Susan Berman

Durst, who has many medical problems and sat in a wheelchair wearing a brown prison scrub, said nothing. His eyes were wide open and he had a catatonic look as he entered the courtroom and barely looked over Kaufman and three of Berman’s cousins ​​as they spoke.

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.

Durst 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’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said they were planning to appeal and refrained from making other remarks during the verdict.

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Judge Mark Windham denied a motion for a new trial and rejected arguments that there was insufficient evidence or that he had made mistakes in 15 different ways in previous convictions.

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“You said the court made mistakes so many times that it made me feel self-conscious,” Windham joked.

He said prosecutors had overwhelming evidence proving Durst’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in at least five ways, including a devastating cross-examination of Durst at the testimony and an admission of Durst at the climax of the six-part documentary, “The Jinx: Robert Durst’s Life and Crime. ”

After getting caught up in a lie about a note, he wrote the police to Berman’s “corpse”, Durst went into a bathroom and mumbled to himself with a live microphone, “killed them all, of course.”

Durst testified that he regretted participating in the documentary.

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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.

Seven of the jury members returned to court to witness the verdict and sat in the jury box.

Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster and a writer, was long familiar to Durst. She told friends and Durst that she was preparing to talk to the police about his wife’s disappearance just before she was killed.

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Kathie Durst has never been found. Robert Durst has never been charged with a crime in connection with her disappearance.

But after his conviction in Berman’s death, which was based on evidence that he killed his wife, a prosecutor in New York is now ready to file charges against him in her death, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Kathie McCormack Durst’s family had hoped to be able to present statements to the court on Thursday about their loss, but prosecutors denied the request, according to emails sent to their lawyer.

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Attorney Robert Abrams, who appeared at the hearing. said the McCormack family was disappointed and upset.

“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. ”

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, Kaufman and others appealed to Durst now that he will hardly be free to tell the McCormack family where she was buried.

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“I hope in your last days and hours you will give McCormacks the little they ask for: to find Kathie, to let her rest appropriately, finally and finally,” Kaufman said. “This is the most important issue that still haunts us.”

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.

Robert Durst determined his share of the family’s fortune, which prosecutors estimated at $ 100 million.

Berman’s cousin, Davy Berman, with whom she lived in Idaho as a teenager after her father died, said he had gone to see her grave at Home of Peace Memorial Park in East Los Angeles before the verdict.

“I visited her and said she could be calm,” he said as his voice cracked. “That justice has been done.”

Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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