The Robert Durst Murder Case Has Finally Gone to Trial

Illustration for article titled The Robert Durst Murder Case Has Finally Gone to Trial
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Five years ago, real estate heir and millionaire Robert Durst became the focus of the 2015 HBO documentary series, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, for allegedly murdering his friend Susan Berman back in 1982, a crime connected to longstanding accusations in the disappearance and possible murder of his wife. As of this week, Durst is finally on trial, NPR reports. He has been charged with one count of murder by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

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Back in January, Durst’s lawyers confirmed that he wrote the infamous, anonymous tip-off letter that lead authorities to Berman’s body back in 2000. Referenced heavily in The Jinx, the letter was mailed to the Beverly Hills police department with an address leading to her home with the word “CADAVER,” written on one side. The handwriting matched Durst’s—including a characteristic misspelling of “Beverley.” When confronted with the information in the final episode of the show, he’s seen saying, “Only the killer could have written [it],” before wandering into the bathroom. Still wired to a microphone, he’s heard uttering to himself, “You’re caught! What a disaster. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” He was arrested on March 14, 2015, the day before the bombshell episode aired.

In 2016, a newly filed transcript revealed that Durst claimed to have been “on meth the whole time,” during filming, adding that the reason he confessed to murdering people was because “I was swooping, speeding.” He pleaded not guilty to Berman’s murder.

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Prosecution believes Durst murdered Berman to stop her from speaking out about the disappearance of his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst, who went missing in 1982 and was declared legally dead in 2017. Her body was never found. According to BuzzFeed, police believe Durst killed his wife and Berman helped him cover it up.

Additionally, in 2003, Durst was acquitted for the 2001 murder of his elderly neighbor Morris Black, after shooting him in self-defense and then dismembering his cadaver and deposited his remains in Texas’ Galveston Bay “in a panic.”

“This is a fascinating case,” Judge Mark Windham told the court during jury selection in February. “If you’re going to have one trial where you’re going to be a juror, this is the trial. You’re never going to have an experience like this.” I’ve never heard a judge stop just short of calling a murder trial a “wild ride,” and yet, there it is.

Durst’s trial is expected to last five months, so buckle up.

No. Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

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Cheers Pink Ears!

I can’t imagine being on a jury for five months. I was on a jury for four weeks, and that seemed really long.