Real estate scion Robert Durst 'admitted' to killing his friend03/09/2020
Real estate scion Robert Durst ‘effectively admitted’ to killing his friend in police interviews, prosecutor says as he delivers opening statement in trial of the multi-millionaire triple murder suspect
- Real estate scion Robert Durst’s murder trial began last week in Los Angeles
- Durst, 76, has pleaded not guilty to killing his close friend of many years, Susan Berman, at her home in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles in 2000
- Prosecutors say he shot execution-style to prevent her from revealing to police what she knew about the mysterious disappearance of Durst’s first wife
- Durst was the subject of the HBO documentary series The Jinx in 2015 where he was caught on microphone appearing to admit to murder
- The prosecution said Monday that Durst ‘effectively admitted’ to the killing of Susan Berman in interviews with police
- ‘Durst in essence confessed to Kathie and Susan’s murders by admitting that he had details that he had not yet provided,’ the prosecutor said
- Durst admitted to killing and dismembering neighbor Morris Black in Texas in 2001 but was acquitted in 2003 after claiming he acted in self-defense
Infamous alleged triple-murderer Robert Durst ‘effectively admitted’ to the killing of his friend Susan Berman in interviews with police, a Los Angeles prosecutor told the jury in his murder trial Monday.
Durst is standing trial for the execution-style shooting of Berman in 2000, and in the State’s opening statements last week the real estate heir was also accused of murdering his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, and a neighbor, Morris Black.
In a third day of what has become a marathon opening statement laying out the case against Durst, lead prosecutor John Lewin played the jury a videotape of himself and Los Angeles Police Department detectives interviewing the multi-millionaire in 2015, where Lewin says Durst made a tacit but startling admission: that he was a murderer.
In the interview, Lewin asks Durst: ‘When you killed Susan, that was not something you wanted to do. Do you want to know how I know that?
Durst replied: ‘I’m going to stay away from killing Susan.’
Lewin seized on the response, telling the jury that when given an opportunity, Durst failed to deny the killings.
He added that Durst hinted he had details about the crime that only the killer would know.
Real estate scion Robert Durst’s murder trial began last week in Los Angeles. Durst, 76, looked frail and shaky in court
Durst allegedly admitted to his friend Susan Berman that he had killed his first wife Kathie (pictured together) and feared Susan would tell police
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin gestures a handgun during the prosecution’s opening statements in Durst’s trial
‘At the end of the interview,’ Lewin said, ‘Durst in essence confessed to Kathie and Susan’s murders by admitting that he had details that he had not yet provided.’
The lead prosecutor played the Jury a clip from the interview, where investigators asked Durst for the location of his late wife’s remains.
‘You’d like some details from me if I knew about where Kathie’s body is and about what happened to Susan,’ Durst told the investigators.
The wealthy real estate heir admitted killing and dismembering neighbor Morris Black (pictured) in Texas in 2001 but was acquitted after claiming he acted in self-defense
‘I’m not about to go that far. I think what you wanted to hear was ”what did you do with Kathie”,’ he said.
‘I think you want me to go through the details with Susan.
‘By telling you those things, of being guilty. By pleading guilty I’m going to be going back to Los Angeles, California, and doing my time.’
After playing the excerpts from the interview, Lewin told the jury: ‘Bob Durst was admitting that he had the answers to those questions, answers he could only have if in fact he was the killer.’
The LA prosecutor also showed the jury handwriting samples that experts have concluded belong to Durst, linking him to a note mailed to police in 2000 with the word ‘cadaver’ and Berman’s address.
Lewin showed that Durst had written the same address on an envelope he had previously sent to Berman containing a $25,000 check, printed with his name and address on the top left corner.
The envelope was recovered from the crime scene after Berman’s body was discovered, and Lewin told the jury it later became a highly significant piece of evidence.
‘2014 LAPD retained world renowned forensic document examiners Lloyd Cunningham and Linton Mohammed to compare Durst’s handwriting to the cadaver note and envelope,’ the prosecutor said.
‘They concluded that Bob Durst wrote the cadaver note.’
Lewin played the jury a section of his 2015 interview with the real estate heir, where he brought up the incriminating note.
In the videotaped interview, the investigators put it to Durst that ‘Whoever wrote the note was a part of killing her.’
Durst replied in agreement: ‘Whoever wrote that note had to be involved in Susan’s death.’
Lewin told the jury that the statement, coupled with the alleged handwriting match, was tantamount to an admission to Berman’s murder.
Investigators have long suspected that he also murdered his first wife Kathleen Durst, who disappeared in New York in 1982. Her body has never been found and Durst has never been charged or convicted of his first wife’s murder (couple above in their wedding photo)
The prosecution said Monday that Durst ‘effectively admitted’ to the killing of Susan Berman in interviews with police
Durst was the subject of the HBO documentary series The Jinx in 2015 (pictured in court) where he was caught on microphone appearing to admit to murder
The charges against Durst were sparked in part by a series of interviews the alleged killer gave to a HBO documentary, The Jinx, in 2015.
In a shocking apparent admission, producers caught him on a hot mic during a bathroom break mumbling to himself, ‘What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.’
The 79-year-old real estate heir from Scarsdale, New York, has been held in LA County Jail for the trial.
He reportedly suffers from hydrocephalus and in 2013 underwent spinal surgery, had a stent put into his skull and had a cancerous mass removed from his esophagus.
The alleged triple-murderer appeared frail in court, walking unsteadily in a grey suit jacket, white shirt, cream pants and white, velcro sneakers.
Throughout Lewin’s monologue to the court on Monday, Durst stared straight ahead.
The alleged killer is the son of billionaire real estate mogul Seymour Durst. The Durst Organization, founded by Robert’s grandfather Joseph in 1927, owns or manages New York properties said to be worth $4.4billion.
The trial, which is expected to last five months, began last week with two days of opening statements from the prosecution which carried into Monday, with Durst’s defense yet to have their turn addressing the jury.
Prosecutors told the court last week that Durst murdered three people – his first wife Kathleen McCormack Durst, his longtime friend Susan Berman who helped him construct a ‘false alibi’ for the disappearance of his wife, and a neighbor who discovered his true identity after he went into hiding.
Jurors at the Los Angeles trial heard last week that the alleged triple-murderer had a ‘hit list’ of people he wanted to kill, including his younger brother, Douglas, who was chosen over the real estate heir to assume control of the family’s New York-based property empire.
Lewin said that evidence in Durst’s murder trial will ‘clearly and without any doubt’ prove that Bob Durst killed his wife Kathy Durst.’
The year his wife went missing in 1982, the couple were headed for divorce, and Durst himself confessed in videotaped interviews to ‘pushing, shoving and slapping’ Kathy.
‘Durst in essence confessed to Kathie and Susan’s murders by admitting that he had details that he had not yet provided,’ Lewin said
Lewin told the jury that the real estate heir killed his medical staffer wife because she ‘wanted a fair settlement and she wasn’t going to leave the marriage till she got it.’
Kathleen was due to start a new job at a clinic in the Bronx, New York, on February 1, 1982.
Durst told police that he had a sandwich with his wife in South Salem the evening before, then drove her to the station and put her on a train for New York City.
But, said Lewin, ‘There is no evidence that she ever got on that train.’
After taking four days to report his wife missing, Lewin said that Durst told police: ‘whatever happened to Kathy was the result of her drug use, promiscuity and criminal companions.’
He recruited his old friend, Susan Berman, as a ‘spokesperson’. She told detectives Kathleen’s disappearance was ‘something to do with drugs, and she spent $1,000 a week on drugs.’
‘Evidence will show that much of the most damning evidence against Durst comes from Mr. Durst’s own mouth,’ Deputy District Attorney John Lewin told the jury
Lewin told the jury that in fact the medical student ‘didn’t have $1,000 a week to spend on drugs’ and was focused on her career.
The lead prosecutor said Berman’s help even extended to providing a ‘false alibi’ for Durst, posing as Kathleen in a phone call to her medical school after her disappearance.
As the 29-year-old’s body was never found, prosecutors said Durst believed he got away with her murder – until the reopening of her case by New York authorities in 2000 sent him into a panic.
In a recording played to the jury of Durst recalling the period, the alleged killer said ‘I’ve been guilty for years in the newspapers … now they really are going to find me guilty.’
Lewin said Berman’s fate was sealed when she called Durst to tell him police had contacted her about his wife’s vanishing.
‘What am I going to say, no?’ Durst told the HBO documentary, The Jinx.
‘That statement sealed Susan’s fate’ said Lewin who added that Durst ‘decided to kill her because he knew that she was not the best at keeping secrets.’
The trial continues.
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