In this still image taken from the Law&Crime Network court pool video, real estate heir Robert Durst looks at a statement on an electronic device as Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, presents a new round of opening statements in the murder case against Durst after a 14-month recess due to the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Inglewood, Calif., Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Durst, 78, an heir to a New York commercial real estate empire, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of his best friend, Susan Berman. (Law&Crime Network via AP, Pool)

Prosecutor says Durst’s own words show his guilt in killings

Prosecutor says Durst’s own words show his guilt in killings

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Multimillionaire Robert Durst lived a life of such privilege and ease that he didn’t bother keeping track of the many lies he told over the years and it could be his downfall, a prosecutor said Tuesday during a new round of opening statements at his murder trial.

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin wove a combination of Durst’s statements — what he said were truth and lies — to outline evidence that will show the New York real estate heir killed his best friend and a neighbor to cover up the mystery of his wife’s disappearance.

“One of the hallmarks of Bob Durst is that despite all the lies he tells, he doesn’t take or use the mental energy to even remember them because his life has been spent privileged in getting away with whatever he wants,” Lewin said. “The evidence is going to show that’s going to be his undoing in a lot of ways in all three of these cases.”

Durst, 78, is only charged with one count of murder — in the killing of his best friend, Susan Berman, in 2000 in her Los Angeles home.

Durst has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer said he doesn’t know who killed Berman, who was his longtime confidante and once an unofficial spokeswoman when Kathie Durst vanished in New York in 1982.

But Lewin said the killing of Berman, who was shot in the back of the head at close range, and Durst’s admission that he fatally shot and dismembered a drifter in Texas in 2001 are both tied to the mystery of Kathie Durst.

“Everything starts with Kathie Durst’s disappearance and death at the hands of Mr. Durst,” Lewin said.

Durst, who suffers from myriad maladies, was slumped in a wheelchair dressed in a blue sportcoat, white dress shirt and tan pants. His gray hair was disheveled and he appeared to show no emotion behind a white mask as he followed the proceedings on a tablet computer that provided a real-time transcript because he has impaired hearing.

Lewin provided an abbreviated opening statement to refresh jurors on what they last heard over six days in March 2020 before the case was recessed an unprecedented 14 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Defense lawyers will present their own summary of the evidence on Wednesday. Last year, they stunned the audience when they said they would put Durst on the witness stand.

Durst was acquitted of murder in a Texas court after testifying he killed Morris Black when the man pulled a gun on him and they wrestled for the weapon in the Galveston rooming house where they both lived.

Durst had gone into hiding in Texas after New York prosecutors reopened the investigation into Kathie Durst’s suspected death. He killed Black because he had discovered Durst’s identity and was trying to leverage the wealthy scion to buy a house for the two of them, Lewin said.

Durst killed Black about nine months after Berman was found dead in her Benedict Canyon home in December 2000. Police were directed to the home by a note with only her address and the word, “CADAVER” written in block letters.

Durst told the makers of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” in 2010 and 2012 that he didn’t write the note. He told the filmmakers and investigators in 2015 that whoever wrote the note had to have been Berman’s killer.

“You’re writing a note to the police that only the killer could have written,” Durst said.

Lewin said that now amounts to a confession after defense lawyers conceded before trial that Durst wrote the note. Evidence had shown he once penned a note to Berman in identical handwriting, with her address similarly misspelled “Beverley” Hills instead of Beverly.

The defense argues Durst found Berman’s body, panicked and ran. He sent the note to police so she’d be found, though her body was discovered before police got the note.

Durst killed Berman to keep her from talking to police about how she helped him cover up his wife’s disappearance, Lewin said.

Lewin played a clip of testimony from Nick Chavin, a mutually close friend of the defendant and victim, who said Berman once told him that Durst had killed Kathie. He said Durst told him he killed Berman after the two had dinner in New York in 2014.

“I had to,” Durst said on the sidewalk, according to Chavin. “It was her or me, I had no choice.”

Lewin said Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster who never would have turned her back on a stranger, had no idea Durst had come to kill her when she let him in her home just before Christmas.

“She turned around because because she trusted him, because he was her close friend, because he was not somebody to fear,” Lewin said. “She turned around, she took a few steps and he basically blew her brains out.”

Lewin showed a photo of Berman lying on her back, her raven hair spread out on the floor and dark blood pooled under her head.

Brian Melley, The Associated Press

crime

 

Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, right, gives Robert Durst a device to read the real time spoken script as he appears in a courtroom as Judge Mark E. Windham gives last instructions to jurors before attorneys begin opening statements at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. Durst, 78, is charged with one count of murder — in the killing of his best friend, Susan Berman, in 2000 in her Los Angeles home. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

Just Posted

Alberta premier Jason Kenney announced the province's reopening plan late last month and moved into Stage 1 of that plan Tuesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

(Advocate file photo).
Red Deer voters can choose their voting station for fall municipal election

The rules are changing to increase accessibility while improving safety

Three Hills RCMP recovered stolen copper wire during recent investigation near Kneehill. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta man causes extensive damage at Rocky Mountian House car dealership

A Central Alberta man caused more than $200,000 in damage at Edward’s… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
LeBlanc signals some cautious easing of pandemic travel restrictions coming soon

Government has already said it will relax quarantine protocols in early July

This satellite photo provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province, China on May 8, 2021. The Chinese nuclear power plant near Hong Kong had five broken fuel rods in a reactor but no radioactivity leaked, the government said Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in its first confirmation of the incident that prompted concern over the facility’s safety. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
China says nuclear fuel rods damaged, no radiation leak

China Atomic Energy Authority reported the reactor’s ‘containment integrity is maintained’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Canada’s Cyle Larin (17) scores past Haiti’s Josue Duverger, bottom left, during the second half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Canada, Panama, El Salvador advance in World Cup qualifying

Top three nations in the regional finals advance to 32-nation field for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Dragon’s Den cast member Arlene Dickinson poses on the red carpet at the 24th Annual Gemini Awards in Calgary on November 14, 2009.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry Macdougal
Entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson’s memoir being developed into scripted TV series

Dramatizing the battle to do business ‘ethically and honestly’

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after Rutta scored against the New York Islanders during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Kucherov shines, Lightning beat Islanders 4-2 in Game 2

Lightning 4 Islanders 2 (Series tied 2-2) TAMPA, Fla. — Brayden Point… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) shoots as Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton (24) defends during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Durant’s sensational performance sends Nets to 3-2 lead

Nets 114 Bucks 108 (Brooklyn leads series 3-2) NEW YORK (AP) —… Continue reading

New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Frazier snaps tie, Yankees come back to beat Blue Jays 6-5

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Clint Frazier snapped an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Pornhub says it has removed all content uploaded by non-verified users. The sex website faced accusations it hosted illegal content. The company, which is owned by Montreal-based Mindgeek, says it has suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by one of its content partners or members of its Model Program. THE CANADIAN PRESS
International women’s rights advocates call on Canada to hold Pornhub to account

Jeanette Westbrook says being sexually abused as a child will haunt her… Continue reading

Most Read