New York real estate heir Robert Durst was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison for murdering a friend more than 20 years ago in a murder possibly linked to the killer’s missing wife.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham handed down that sentence a month after jurors convicted Durst, 78, of first-degree murder on Dec. 23, 2000, Susan Berman’s death. Berman was shot at idle in the back of his head inside his Benedict Canyon home.
Durst’s lawyers said in Thursday’s ruling that they plan to appeal.
Prior to her 2000 murder, Berman had planned to talk to police about a false alibi she allegedly gave Durst when his wife disappeared in New York in 1982, prosecutors said.
Kathie Durst has never been found and has never been charged with her disappearance.
After Berman was killed, Durst fell off the net and landed in Galveston, Texas, where he adopted the name Dorothy Ciner and regularly wore a woman’s wig, dresses and high heels.
Durst’s neighbor Morris Black was killed and divided by Durst in September 2001, but he was acquitted and claimed self-defense.
Then in a 2015 HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”, Durst appeared to confess to the killings.
He walked into the bathroom while still wearing a hot microphone, which registered him whispering to himself, “You’re trapped! What the hell was I doing? Killed them all, of course.”
In statements before Durst’s conviction, Berman’s family spoke passionately about the impact she and her murder had on them.
Denny Marcus called Berman, her cousin, an “absolutely extraordinary, unforgettable, glorious person whose life was taken wildly from her as a 55-year-old when she had many years ahead of her.”
“I know she has her hand right here, she’s on my shoulder, and she knows I would do anything for her,” Marcus said. She added that she could not hate Durst because Berman made sure she always knew that “hate serves no purpose.”
Berman’s stepson, Sareb Kaufman, said: “I should have worked for a career I could be proud of, find love, get married and have children. Instead, I was forced to pay for memorials and bills that were not mine or scheduled to spend the time I could manage not to be in tears or feel hopeless by continuing another day. “
Kaufman and David Berman, another of Berman’s cousins, used their statements to urge Durst to reveal the location of Kathie Durst’s body.
“Let us know where Kathie’s body is so her family can get closure,” David Berman said.
“I hope in the last days and hours you will come to the same understanding and give McCormicks the little they ask for: finding Kathie,” Kaufman said. “To put her to rest appropriately, finally, and at long last. This is the most important question … the only thing you have to give is any real value or ability to influence any opinion about you.”
“By telling where Kathie is, you might be able to find a little redemption in a human act,” Kaufman said.