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Robert Durst Takes Stand, Denies Shooting His Best Friend Execution-Style

Robert Durst is on trial for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman, whom prosecutors say he killed because she had information about the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst.  

By Gina Tron

Robert Durst, the 78-year-old real estate heir who has been linked to three deaths, has taken the stand to deny killing his close friend

Durst is currently on trial for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. Prosecutors say he shot her execution-style because she had information about the 1982 disappearance of Durst's first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst. While his former wife's body was never found, she was declared dead in 2017. Durst, who has never been charged with her death, denies knowing what happened to her.

Monday marked Durst’s first day of testimony in a Los Angeles courtroom. He denied shooting Berman, CNN reports.

He testified that he befriended Berman at the University of California, Los Angeles, where they both studied. They bonded over their wealth and having parents who died at young ages. Berman later became Durst's unofficial spokesperson when his wife vanished, NBC News reports. 

He has pleaded not guilty the first-degree murder charge for Berman.

His testimony will resume on Wednesday. 

This week marks the 11th week of the trial. While it began in March of 2020, it was postponed for 14 months due to COVID-19. The prosecution rested its case last week. They put Durst’s younger brother on the stand who testified that he feared Durst wanted to kill him.

“He’d like to murder me,” Douglas Durst told the court.

Robert Durst’s former housekeeper Elizabeth Jones also testified that she saw what seemed to be blood in his home after his first wife vanished.

Durst has been in a wheelchair during the entire trial due to bladder cancer and other ailments, CNN reports.

Less than a year after Berman's murder, Durst shot his neighbor Morris Black to death in Texas before disposing of his dismembered remains in Galveston Bay. Durst claimed he shot Black in self-defense and he was acquitted of murder in 2003. He pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and bail jumping a year later and was sentenced to five years with credit for time served. He was paroled in 2005.

In 2015, he was arrested in connection with Berman's death, just one day before the finale of "The Jinx," an HBO docuseries on him, aired. The docueries captured Durst possibly confessing to himself on a hot mic while using the bathroom after an interview with the filmmaker. 

"What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course," he allegedly says. While the filmmakers edited his mumblings, they provided the full clip to police. It was played in its entirety for jurors in 2020 before COVID postponed the trial. In the full version, he said "Killed them all, of course" before asking "What the hell did I do?" He babbled to himself between both phrases, mentioning burping and that he was struggling with the interview questions.