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Robert Durst, the true property inheritor suspected in a string of killings over practically 4 many years, was sentenced to life in jail with out parole for murdering his pal and confidante Susan Berman.
A Los Angeles jury convicted Durst, 78, of first-degree homicide final month for the 2000 killing. Prosecutors argued that Durst had shot Berman at point-blank vary in her house to forestall her from telling police what she knew concerning the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first spouse, Kathie McCormack Durst. The decision marked the primary murder conviction for Durst, who has been linked to the deaths of three individuals in three states.
Durst’s attorneys filed a movement searching for a brand new trial, claiming there was inadequate proof to convict Durst, which the decide dismissed on Thursday in the beginning of the sentencing.
“The defendant’s testimony was profoundly incredible and incriminating,” mentioned Choose Mark Windham, including that there was “overwhelming evidence of guilt”.
Thursday’s sentence was anticipated as prosecutors didn’t search the demise penalty and the jury had additionally convicted Durst of the particular circumstances of mendacity in wait and killing a witness, which carry necessary life sentences.
Household and buddies of Berman advised the courtroom how Durst had robbed them of an unforgettable and constant pal who cared deeply for different individuals.
“It’s been a daily, soul-consuming and crushing experience,” Sareb Kaufman, Berman’s stepson, mentioned of her homicide.
One other relative mentioned he had visited Berman’s grave to inform her that justice had been served and he or she might lastly “rest easy”.
Earlier than sentencing Durst, the decide mentioned Berman was an “an extraordinary human being” and her demise was a loss to the group.
The sentencing got here six years after the documentary sequence The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst thrust the multimillionaire into the highlight. The sequence chronicled Berman’s homicide, in addition to the disappearance of Durst’s spouse and the 2001 demise of a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, the place Durst was hiding out whereas disguised as a deaf-mute girl. He was arrested on the eve of the airing of the final episode of the sequence, during which Durst appeared to admit to the killings, saying to himself, “What the hell did I do? … Killed them all, of course.”
In courtroom, the 78-year-old appeared sick and much more frail than he did within the 2015 documentary. He struggles with listening to and used a wheelchair all through the trial. At one level, after 38 hours of cross-examination, the decide urged the lead prosecutor to cease his questions. “At some point, there’s a limit,” the decide mentioned.
Authorities have sought to place Durst behind bars for years for his position in crimes that officers imagine date again to the disappearance and possible homicide of McCormack.
“Everything starts with Kathie Durst’s disappearance and death at the hands of Mr Durst,” John Lewin, the deputy district lawyer, mentioned in his opening assertion on the Berman trial.
McCormack’s physique was by no means discovered, although she was declared lifeless in 2017. Durst was by no means an official suspect within the case, however prosecutors argued he was chargeable for her demise. The couple had been combating earlier than she disappeared, Durst admitted, and within the previous weeks McCormack had gone to the hospital with accidents she mentioned Durst had precipitated.
Prosecutors mentioned Durst had killed Berman, his finest pal, as a result of she was ready to inform police how she helped cowl up the killing of McCormack. Berman had reportedly advised buddies she had supplied him with a false alibi.
Prosecutors mentioned on Thursday that they didn’t imagine Berman had recognized she was overlaying up a homicide, and that she had as a substitute been attempting to assist her pal. Durst, they mentioned, had in all probability advised her what occurred to McCormack was an accident.
Durst had beforehand confronted a homicide trial in Texas for the demise of his neighbor Morris Black. Whereas in Galveston, the inheritor tried to go himself off as a mute girl named Dorothy Ciner, however Black didn’t purchase the disguise and he was shot and dismembered, prosecutors mentioned. Durst and his authorized group argued he had killed Black in self-defense, and he was acquitted.
Prosecutors in New York are anticipated to pursue costs in opposition to Durst over his ex-wife’s demise. The Westchester district lawyer’s workplace has reopened the investigation into McCormack’s demise however has not confirmed reviews of its plan to hunt an indictment in opposition to Durst.
McCormack’s household had hoped to talk at Thursday’s sentencing, a request that was denied as California legislation mandates that solely Berman’s household is eligible to supply sufferer affect statements in courtroom, the Los Angeles Instances reported.
“It was never really a thought that they wouldn’t be allowed to give a victim impact statement,” Robert Abrams, the McCormacks’ household lawyer, advised the newspaper. “When somebody is the central focus of the criminal trial, you would expect it.”
Berman’s family members pleaded with Durst to inform the McCormack household the place he buried his first spouse’s physique.
“Any hope of any kind of redemption you can find is in letting them know where to find Kathie,” Kaufman mentioned.
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