Robert Durst gets life in prison for murdering Susan Berman
Real estate outcast not eligible for parole; lawyers plan to appeal
Robert Durst was sentenced in Los Angeles to life in prison Thursday for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman at her Benedict Canyon home.
The 78-year-old former heir to the Durst Organization fortune will not be eligible for parole, according to the New York Times.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham denied Durst’s lawyers’ request for a new trial. They are expected to appeal the decision.
The courtroom was full for the sentencing, a first since the trial restarted in May following a pandemic-related pause.
The decision concludes an almost five-year court drama that started with Durst’s pleading not guilty to the murder charge in 2016. That same year, he pleaded guilty to a gun charge and received a seven-year sentence, which he is still serving.
The trial has been one of the highest profile cases in the country, largely because of the 2015 documentary “The Jinx,” which detailed Durst’s life and concluded with evidence that he was involved in Berman’s murder.
Prosecutors arrested Durst in 2015, not long after the documentary’s release, and accused him of killing Berman to prevent her from sharing information about his wife Kathie McCormack’s 1982 disappearance.
Berman was a close confidant of Durst and acted as his informal spokesperson in the period after McCormack’s disappearance, which remains unsolved.
Prosecutors in Westchester County, New York, reopened the McCormack investigation this year. The district attorney’s office is expected to seek a first-degree murder indictment soon, according to the Times.
The L.A. County trial concluded last month and the jury quickly found Durst guilty.
The trail saw a handful of dramatic moments. Durst’s brother, Durst Organization Chairman Douglas Durst, testified in June that he thought his brother wants to kill him and “may have the means to do so.”
The defendant helped convict himself with his own testimony in August.
“‘Did you kill Susan Berman?’ is strictly a hypothetical,” Durst said. “I did not kill Susan Berman. But if I had, I would lie about it.”
[NYT] — Dennis Lynch