U.S. real estate agent Robert Durst was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday without the possibility of parole for the murder of his best friend.
Durst, a multi-millionaire who was the subject of an explosive HBO documentary titled “The Jinx”, has always denied accusations that he shot that girlfriend, Susan Berman, in the back of the head in 2000 at her home in Beverly Hills for keep her from talking to the police about his wife’s disappearance two decades earlier.
But last month, a Los Angeles jury took just eight hours to find the 78-year-old guilty of the execution-style murder of Berman.
“This crime was a testimony,” Judge Mark Windham said before reading out the life sentence. “This circumstance … greatly aggravated this terrible, disturbing crime.”
Windham rejected the defense’s request for a new trial, saying “There is, in fact, sufficiently overwhelming evidence of guilt.”
The court also heard from Sareb Kaufman, a son of Berman, who said he has wondered what his life would have been like if Durst had not killed his mother.
“Every plan was completely swept away,” said a weeping Kaufman. “You murdered me too, the person I was.”
Durst sat motionless in a wheelchair during Thursday’s court hearing.
Prosecutors say he murdered crime writer Berman to prevent her from being questioned by New York police over the disappearance of his wife Kathleen.
Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, had acted as spokeswoman for Durst after he was suspected of his wife’s disappearance.
‘Killed them all’
Durst, an alienated member of one of New York’s richest and most powerful real estate dynasties, was never charged in his wife’s case.
He was arrested in March 2015 in a hotel room in New Orleans in connection with Berman’s murder, hours before the final episode aired in the HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”
In his stunning finale, Durst is heard mumbling to himself: “There’s what you’re caught” and “Killed them all of course” – apparently unaware that a microphone he was wearing during the filming of that episode remained on while he used the toilet during a break in the session.
In Thursday’s cases, Berman’s relatives urged him to say where his wife’s body is.
The documentaries also touched on the 2001 death of Durst’s neighbor in Texas, Morris Black, who was found divided.
Durst admitted division, but claimed the killing was self-defense. He was acquitted.
He repeatedly denied any involvement in Berman’s death, but acknowledged he had written an anonymous letter to police telling them her body was in her home in Beverly Hills.
Last month, prosecutor John Lewin told the jury there was a “mountain of evidence” that Durst had killed all three people whose deaths he had been linked to.
He said a friend of Durst’s had testified that the real estate magnate had told him about Berman: “It was her or me. I had no choice.”
“He has never been held accountable for his domestic abuse by (wife) Kathie. He was never held accountable for her death. For the past 20 years, he has escaped murdering Susan,” Lewin told the jury.
“For the last 20 years he has avoided responsibility for Morris Black. Durst is not jinxed. He is a three-time killer who has managed to escape responsibility until this moment.”
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