Real estate scion Robert Durst, who was featured in the HBO documentary “The Jinx,” was found guilty of first-degree murder by a Los Angeles jury on Friday.
Durst was charged with murder for the 2000 shooting death of his friend and confidant Susan Berman. During the lengthy trial — which was suspended in spring 2020 for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic — prosecutors argued that Durst killed Berman to prevent her from implicating him in the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack.
Durst was not present for the reading of Friday’s verdict, having been forced to isolate after exposure to COVID-19. Superior Court Judge Mark Windham allowed the reading to proceed in his absence, citing the need for expediency given the ongoing pandemic.
“I’m disappointed, but not in the fight we put up,” Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, told TheWrap Friday night. “We came in second in a two horse race.”
Durst was arrested in March 2015 by FBI agents in New Orleans, one day before the finale of HBO’s “The Jinx,” which chronicled Durst’s life and the death of three people close to him — McCormack, Berman and Morris Black, a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, who was shot dead in Durst’s apartment.
The 78-year-old multimillionaire was previously acquitted of the 2003 murder of Black after arguing self-defense. He later went on to serve nine months in prison on weapons charges related to the case.
Prosecutors in the Berman case argued that all three deaths were linked (though Durst has never been charged with McCormack’s death). Berman was killed just days before she was set to be interviewed by investigators about Durst’s wife’s disappearance, which prosecutors said she helped her friend cover up. They also argued that Durst killed Black intending to steal his identity in order to evade authorities.
Durst’s case became a national sensation after “The Jinx” premiered in 2015. In the final moments of the series, Durst, apparently unaware that his microphone was still on, was caught muttering to himself in the bathroom. “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course,” he said.