Robert Durst, the wealthy New York real estate heir who was convicted of murdering his best friend and sentenced to life in prison, has died at the age of 78.
He died in a state prison hospital facility in Stockton, his attorney, Chip Lewis, said.
He said that it was due to natural causes due to several health problems.
Durst was convicted in September of shooting Susan Berman at point-blank range at her Los Angeles home in 2000. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on 14 October.
Two days later, he was hospitalized with COVID-19, his trial lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said.
Durst has long been suspected of murdering his wife, Cathy, who went missing in 1982 and was declared legally dead. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder in his death in November.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles presented evidence Durst silenced Berman as she helped him cover up Cathy’s murder and was about to speak to investigators.
He also argued that he killed a Texas man who discovered his identity while secretly living in Galveston after Berman’s murder. Durst was acquitted of murder in that case in 2003, after testifying that he shot her in self-defense.
Durst discussed matters and made several hurtful statements, including a surprising confession during an unexpected moment in the six-part HBO documentary series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.
The show made his name known to a new generation and brought renewed scrutiny and suspicion from the authorities.
She was arrested the night before the final episode in Burman’s murder, who went off with her in the bathroom wearing a hot mic murmuring to herself: “You’re caught. What did I do? Of course, kill them all.” cast.”
It was later discovered that the quotes had been manipulated for dramatic effect, but the production – carried out in collaboration with Durst’s own counsel and against the advice of friends – removed new evidence including an envelope showing Durst to murder Berman. The scene was linked to shoddy statements as well. I have made.
The police had found a note instructing them to go to Burman’s house, in which only the word “CADAVER” was written in capital letters.
In interviews given between 2010 and 2015, Durst told the producers of The Jinx that he didn’t write the note, but whoever killed it.
“You’re writing a note to the police that only the killer could have written,” Durst said.
His defense attorneys admitted during the trial that Durst wrote the note, and prosecutors said it amounted to a confession.
Clips from The Jinx, and from the 2010 film All Good Things in which Ryan Gosling played a fictionalized version of Durst, had roles in the trial.
As did Durst himself. Her lawyers again risked putting her on the stand, which turned out to be about three weeks of testimony. It didn’t work as it did in Texas.
Under disastrous cross-examination by prosecutor John Levine, Durst admitted that he had lied under oath in the past and would do it again to get out of trouble.
“‘Did you kill Susan Berman?’ is strictly a fictional one,” Durst said from the stand. “I didn’t kill Susan Berman. But if I had, I would have lied about it.”
The jury immediately returned a guilty verdict.
For a long time it seemed that he would avoid any such conviction.
Durst fled in late 2000 when New York officials resumed the investigation into his wife’s disappearance, renting a modest apartment in Galveston and disguised himself as a silent woman.
In 2001, the body parts of a neighbor, Morris Black, began to be washed away in Galveston Bay.
Arrested in the murder, Durst took bail. He was arrested six weeks later for shopping for a sandwich in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he had gone to college. Police found 37 thousand dollars in cash and two pistols from his car.
He will testify that Black had drawn a gun at him and that he died when the weapon went off during the conflict. He detailed to the jurors how he purchased the equipment and dismembered and disposed of Black’s body. He was acquitted of murder. He pleaded guilty to breach of his bail and tampering with evidence to refute. I have served three years in prison.
Durst had bladder cancer and his health deteriorated during the Burman trial. He was taken to court in a wheelchair every day dressed in prison attire as his lawyers said he was unable to change into a suit. But the judge ruled out further delays after a 14-month pause during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr DeGuerin said Durst was “very, very ill” at his sentencing hearing and that it was the worst in the 20 years he spent representing him.
Durst entered the courtroom with empty eyes. After the end of the hearing Ms. Berman’s loved ones told the judge how her death had affected their lives, Durst coughed heavily and then appeared to be struggling to breathe. His chest became heavy and he pulled his mask under his mouth and began to take a bribe for air.
The son of real estate magnate Seymour Durst, Robert Durst was born on April 12, 1943, and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. He later said that at the age of seven, he witnessed the death of his mother by falling from her house.
He earned a degree in economics from Lehigh University in 1965, where he played lacrosse. He entered a doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he met Ms. Berman, but dropped out and returned to New York in 1969.
He became a developer in the family business, but his father passed it on to his younger brother and rival Douglas to head the Durst organization in 1992.
In 1971, Robert Durst met Kathy McCormack, and the two were married in 1973 on her 30th birthday.
In January 1982, his wife was a student of her final year in medical school when she went missing. She appeared unexpectedly at a friend’s dinner party in Newtown, Connecticut, then left after calling her husband to return to their home in South Salem, New York.
Robert Durst told police the last time he saw her was when he put her on the train to live at his apartment in Manhattan because he had class the next day.
He would divorce her eight years later, claiming the husband and wife had deserted, and in 2017, at the request of her family, she was declared legally dead.
Robert Durst is survived by his second wife, Debra Chartan, whom he married in 2000. They did not have any child.