On the Stand, Robert Durst Delves Into Relationship With Murdered Friend Susan Berman

“The Jinx” subject testifies in his own murder trial for a third straight day

Robert Durst trial Susan Berman
Law & Crime Network

Taking the witness stand for the third day in a row in his own murder trial, Robert Durst delved into his relationship with his best friend Susan Berman, whom he’s accused of killing in 2000.

Continuing his testimony to Attorney Dick DeGuerin, Durst picked up where he left off Wednesday when he testified about the disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack, and the last time he saw her in 1982. On Thursday, he explained that he wanted to offer a reward in her disappearance, but that he was discouraged by police officers who said it would “muddy the waters” of the investigation.

Then, he explained, there was a discussion of how to handle the situation in the media — he testified that Berman told him to hire a PR firm because he was getting calls from reporters about the disappearance of McCormack. At that point, Durst said he brought up to investigators that his close friend and confidante, Berman, was media savvy. The Durst Organization did not want to hire a PR firm because it would seem like they “had something to hide,” Durst said. By March 1982, a month after McCormack’s disappearance, it became “evident” to Durst that the investigation had been put on the back burner, but Durst said he never lost hope in trying to find his wife. However, he went “back to doing” what he did before, being an executive at the family real estate company.

The testimony then went deeper into his relationship with Berman, whom he met in 1967 when she was a student at UCLA in Los Angeles. He expressed that the two were never “boyfriend, girlfriend or lovers,” and insisted that the two never shared a hotel room when they went on vacations together.

In 2000, he said he got so panicked when then-Westchester County, New York District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said in October 2000 that she was going to reopen the case of McCormack’s disappearance, that he flew to Dallas, bought a wig and drove to Galveston, where he “rented out a cheap apartment, and planned on hiding out there.” He said he made sure not to use his cell phone, credit cards or checks to remain untraceable, but went to the Rosenberg Library to look himself up and make sure there weren’t any stories written about him. He also made plans to travel to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with Berman after he had moved to Galveston in 2000.

He went on to detail that Berman’s financial situation “was not good” and that he would give her money when she asked for it, including checks sent in March 1999, almost a year and a half before Pirro got involved with McCormack’s case.

Pirro never charged him with anything, but he said he remained scared, nonetheless.

DeGuerin was finally getting to the days leading up to Berman’s 2000 murder, including Durst’s whereabouts and drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles to visit her, but the court was adjourned on a cliffhanger until Monday at 9 a.m.

Robert Durst, the real estate heir and the subject of the HBO docuseries “The Jinx” that aired recorded audio of him seeming to confess to killings, has pleaded not guilty for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. His trial first began on March 4 but was soon postponed to April 6 due to the pandemic. By late March, a spokesperson for the Superior Court of California said that the proceedings would be delayed once again to May 26. The date had been postponed for a third time to June 23, and then again to July.

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 — Berman, his first wife, Kathleen McCormack, and a neighbor in Galveston, Texas. Durst was previously acquitted of murder in Texas after he said he killed and dismembered his neighbor, Morris Black, in self-defense in September 2001.

You can watch his testimony here.


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