Douglas Durst to testify at Robert’s murder trial

The chairman of Durst Organization among the dozens expected to take stand at Robert Durst's trial in LA

TRD LOS ANGELES /
Mar.March 05, 2020 08:00 AM
Robert Durst (right), and his brother Douglas Durst, chairman of Durst Organization (left) (Credit: Jae C. Hong-Pool\Getty Images, and Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Robert Durst (right), and his brother Douglas Durst, chairman of Durst Organization (left) (Credit: Jae C. Hong-Pool\Getty Images, and Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Robert Durst’s long-awaited murder trial is underway in Los Angeles and prosecutors intend to call the New York real estate scion’s younger brother, Douglas, chairman of Durst Organization, to the witness stand. Another brother, Tommy Durst, is also expected to testify in a trial that could last several months.

L.A. County prosecutors on Wednesday began opening arguments in the bizarre murder case. Robert Durst, 76, is accused of fatally shooting his one-time best friend, Susan Berman, with a gunshot to the back of the head in her Benedict Canyon home on Dec. 22, 2000.

New York authorities have long suspected that Durst murdered his wife, Kathie McCormack Durst, who disappeared in 1982. L.A. prosecutors allege that Robert Durst killed Berman — who also functioned as his unofficial spokesperson —to keep her from revealing details about the disappearance in a revival of that inquiry.

Separately, a judge in Long Island on Wednesday dismissed a $100 million lawsuit against Robert Durst in connection with the McCormack Durst case, the New York Post reported. The judge said the statute of limitations on the suit, brought by the three sisters and mother of McCormack Durst, had expired.

​In response to a question about that case, Durst Organization spokesperson Jordan Barowitz said, “We hope the McCormack family gets some measure of closure from the outcome of the L.A. trial.”

Following Berman’s death, Durst — whose father, Seymour, founded the family-run development firm — lived an eccentric life. He feigned poverty as a cross-dresser in New Orleans and Houston, officials have said. In Texas in 2001, Durst was accused of fatally shooting a friend, Morris Black. He was acquitted of murder after claiming self-defense, but convicted of dismembering the body.

At the first day of trial, jurors also watched video of Durst — whose father in 1994 removed him as successor to lead the company — talk about his lack of enthusiasm and laziness when it came to working at Durst Organization, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In addition to his brothers, prosecutors will also call to the stand film producer Linda Obst and Laraine Newman, an original “Saturday Night Live” cast member. Both were friends of Berman. They may be among the estimated 100 witnesses expected to testify.

Jurors also will also hear evidence from the 2015 HBO documentary, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” in which the defendant cooperated. He was famously recorded muttering to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” (Durst later said it was “stupid” of him to participate.)

Durst is being represented at tiral by the same defense team that won his acquittal in the Texas murder case. In 2016, he pleaded not guilty to Susan Berman’s murder. Durst’s attorneys have said there is little physical evidence to tie their client to his Berman’s killing.

“Bob Durst did not kill Susan Berman and doesn’t know who did,” lead defense counsel Dick DeGuerin told the Los Angeles Times.


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