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Real estate heir Robert Durst recalled in court this week how he wore a wig to hide from Jeanine Pirro after she announced her plans to reinvestigate his wife’s disappearance.
Durst, 78, is currently on trial for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. Prosecutors say he shot her execution-style because she had information about the disappearance of Kathleen McCormack Durst, Durst's first wife, who vanished from New York's Westchester County in 1982. While her body was never found, she was declared legally dead in 2017.
Two months before Berman was shot, Pirro, who was then district attorney for Westchester County, announced that she planned to reopen the case.
“I’m going to get Robert Durst one way or another,” Pirro said, Durst recounted on the stand Thursday during his third day of testimony this week, the Daily Beast reports.
He testified that he fled to Texas where he bought a wig and hid out in a cheap apartment in Galveston. There, he disguised himself as a mute woman.
“I was hiding from Jeanine Pirro,” Durst told the court.
Pirro went on to become a conservative television host and author.
Just months after Berman's murder, Durst shot his Galveston neighbor Morris Black to death before disposing of his dismembered remains in Galveston Bay. Durst claimed he shot Black in self-defense. The millionaire was acquitted of murder in that case and during the trial, his well-paid defense painted Pirro as a villain who had a personal vendetta against Durst, the 2015 HBO docuseries "The Jinx” showed. During that trial, where Durst also brazenly took the stand, he claimed he eventually stopped wearing a disguise around Black and that the two were like best friends before his death.
Durst ultimately pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and bail jumping a year later. When he was arrested for skipping bail, he had taken on another disguise: he shaved his hair and eyebrows to avoid being recognized. He was sentenced to five years with credit for time served. He was paroled in 2005.
Durst testified on Wednesday that he lied to police in 1982 about the night his wife vanished. He'd told police that he last saw Kathleen getting on a Manhattan-bound commuter train and that they spoke over the phone when she arrived at her apartment in New York City. He admitted that he hadn't actually seen Kathleen get on the train and that he made up their subsequent phone conversation in order to get the police off his back.
“That was a lie,” Durst testified. “I wanted to convince [the detective] that Kathie had gotten back.”
Durst has never been charged with Kathleen’s death and has long denied having anything to do with her disappearance. Prosecutors have been allowed to present evidence during the Berman trial that they argue implicates Durst in Kathleen's death. They allege he then murdered his confidante Berman because she was about to divulge what she knew about the killing.
This week marks the 11th week of the trial. While it began in March of 2020, it was postponed for 14 months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The prosecution rested its case last week. Before doing so, they put Durst’s own brother on the stand who testified that he feared Durst wanted to kill him.
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