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Robert Durst Of 'The Jinx' Gets Trial Date For Murder Of Best Friend Susan Berman

Prosecutors allege that Durst, who was the subject of a popular HBO documentary, killed Berman to keep her quiet about what she knew about the death of his wife Kathleen decades earlier. 

By Jill Sederstrom

Robert Durst will face trial in September for the murder of his best friend Susan Berman, who was found dead on Christmas Eve 19 years ago.

Durst entered a not guilty plea in the case almost two years ago, but now it appears he will finally face a trial after a Los Angeles judge on Tuesday set a trial date for Sept. 3, 2019, according to KTRK.

Durst’s life was chronicled on the popular HBO series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” He was arrested for Berman’s murder in March 2015, the day before the final episode of the documentary aired. In the explosive final episode, Durst can be heard talking to himself during a bathroom break in filming, apparently unaware his microphone was still on, saying “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” At the time, he had just been questioned about the mysterious disappearance of his wife Kathleen in 1982, Berman’s death and the death of Morris Black, for which he had been acquitted in a 2003 trial after claiming self-defense.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Mark E. Windam also ruled that prosecutors would be able to use evidence from Black’s death in the upcoming trial for Berman’s killing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Though he was ultimately acquitted for Black’s murder, Durst admitted dismembering his one-time neighbor and dumping his body parts in the Galveston Bay. He claimed the gun used to kill Black had accidentally gone off when Durst was defending himself against the man.

Durst had moved to Galveston in the fall of 2000 and had been living at the time disguised as an elderly mute woman. He had fled New York after discussion in the local media had suggested the possibility that his wife’s case would be reopened, The Times reports. Black had apparently known his actual identity.

Prosecutors argued evidence from that case should be allowed in the upcoming trial for Berman’s death, who was shot in the back of the head at the end of 2000. They believe the two killings were intertwined and center on the contention that Durst killed his wife Kathleen in 1982. Prosecutors believe Durst later killed Berman to silence her from telling authorities what she knew about his wife's disappearance.

They argued that both Black’s death and Berman’s death showed a pattern of Durst killing people before they were able to share what they knew.

“That man beat a murder in Galveston,” Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said Tuesday, according to the Times. “He got away with it. ... He’s not going to get away with it a second time.”

But Durst’s attorneys argued that allowing the evidence would unfairly influence the jury and would essentially be re-trying Durst for a crime he had already been acquitted of.

“The second the Morris Black acquittal comes before this jury, it’s game over,” Durst’s attorney Chip Lewis said, according to the New York Daily News.

Windam made the decision to allow the evidence after agreeing that the two crimes were likely connected.

“These crimes happened — both of them — during the flight, during the hiding, at the time he believes he’s going to be prosecuted,” Windam said. “He leaves town, and two people are killed.”

 [Photo: MARK BOSTER/AFP/Getty Images]