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‘He’s Gotten Away With Murder For A Long Time:' Closing Arguments In Robert Durst Case Feature Silicone Mask, ‘Cockroach Soup’

A jury will begin deliberating Robert Durst's fate in the 2000 murder of Susan Berman on Sept. 14.

By Gina Tron
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Prosecutors have wrapped up their closing arguments in the Robert Durst trial, trotting out a silicone mask once worn by the real estate heir as a disguise during their summation.

Prosecutors closed Wednesday with scathing remarks about 78-year-old Durst as they tried to prove to the jury that he sported the prosthetic mask so he could flee to Cuba in 2015 after killing three people, the New York Post reports.

In 2015, he was arrested for the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman, just one day before the finale of the HBO docuseries "The Jinx" aired. The serries focused on the three deaths Durst has been linked to and the final episode seemingly caught him muttering a possible confession on a hot mic while using the bathroom.

Prosecutor Habib Balian held up the mask for the jury to see as he noted that Durst had loads of cash, a gun and a map of Cuba when he was arrested.

While the trial is only for the murder of Berman, all three deaths that Durst is connected to were major topics of testimony within the Los Angeles courtroom. The first, of his wife Kathleen "Kathie" McCormack Durst, who vanished in 1982, has been presented as the linchpin in the case. Prosecutors say Durst shot Berman execution-style because she had information about Kathleen's disappearance.

“We’ve got to go way back in time to Kathie, because everything the defendant did in this case stems from covering up his part in her death,” Balian said while beginning his closing statements, according to the New York Daily News.

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He told jurors that Durst killed his “working class” wife in a “violent confrontation” before later killing Berman and then his neighbor Morris Black in Texas months after Berman's death to further protect himself. Durst, the son of New York City businessman Seymour Durst, shot Black before disposing of his dismembered remains in Galveston Bay. Durst was hiding out in Texas at the time, posing as a mute woman. He 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.

Balian showed the jury a photo of Durst on his 1973 wedding day to Kathleen, who was declared legally dead in 2017. Then, he played a clip of Durst talking about the marriage in “The Jinx.”

“I had oodles of education. She had zilch. Girl from a small town,” Durst said in the clip, according to the Daily News. “For me, I guess you would say I was marrying beneath me.”

The prosecutor claimed that Durst “dominated” and abused Kathleen before he killed her and “disposed of her body.” He theorized that Kathleen's remains are likely in the wilderness of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.

Balian then questioned the credibility of Durst, who was on the witness stand for 15 days, likening his testimony to cockroach soup. 

"You can't tell which part of that soup is tainted, and which part of that soup is not tainted. It's all infected with lies," Balian said, according to Reuters.

While Durst has insisted his testimony had been truthful, he did confess to previous fabrications in the courtroom. He admitted that he did lie to police in 1982 about his wife Kathleen calling him from her apartment in Manhattan the night she was last seen alive. He said the lie was meant to get detectives off his back.

Furthermore, Durst admitted on the stand to lying in the past about the so-called "cadaver note" written to police to alert them to Berman’s body. While he denied writing it in the past, including famously to filmmakers of the 2015 HBO docuseries “The Jinx,” he confessed on the stand that he was the penman. He said he wrote it out of panic after discovering Berman's dead body, believing that if he had simply called authorities, they would recognize his voice and think he was responsible.

“He’s gotten away with murder for a long time," Balian stated. "It’s time for that to end."

Meanwhile, Durst’s defense tried to convince the jury that there isn’t enough evidence to convict him. 

“Fortunately for Mr. Durst, they failed to deliver the required evidence to support their script/theory,” lawyer Chip Lewis said on Tuesday. “In our beautiful country, we do not convict folks based on made-for-TV-movies.”

Jury deliberations are expected to begin on Sept. 14.