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Robert Durst Sees Autopsy Photos Of Slain Friend As Murder Trial Hearings Begin

The real estate tycoon is charged with killing his friend, author Susan Berman, execution-style.

By Jon Silman

Robert Durst sat blankly in a Los Angeles courtroom Monday as prosecutors showed grisly autopsy photos of his slain friend Susan Berman — and argued that Durst should stand trial for her murder.

Durst, the real estate heir who case rose to national prominence through the HBO series "The Jinx," faces hearing this week to determine whether he will be tried for Berman's December 2000 death.

The 75-year-old millionaire showed no expression as prosecutors displayed photos of Berman. In one, her right eye was blackened, and in an expression of her final moment, her tongue was stuck between her lips. In another autopsy photo, her black hair was shaved to show the spot where a bullet entered the back of her head, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

Despite his lack of emotion over the photos, Durst scowled during other parts of the hearing, according to the Associated Press.

Berman was killed execution-style in her home in Beverly Hills. Investigators had planned to speak with her about the 1982 disappearance of Kathleen McCormack Durst, Durst's first wife. Kathleen's body was never found and no one was charged for her disappearance or death. Durst has said he is innocent in both cases. 

One photo from the early 1980s that was shown in court depicted Durst and his wife, along with Berman, all smiling together. 

The manager of the Manhattan building where the Dursts lived in a penthouse apartment, Karen Minutello, was also interviewed at the hearing on Monday. She said Kathleen Durst called her about a week before disappearing and asked if she could rent her own unit because she didn't want to live with her husband anymore.

“She was hesitant, she didn’t just blurt out why. Then she did say she needed to get away from him,” Minutello said. “She was afraid of him.”

Minutello also told the court that days after Kathleen Durst vanished, she found a broken trash compactor stuffed with Kathleen's possessions, including notebooks and dresses, makeup and a hair dryer. She made notes at the time because those findings seemed significant. 

“Who does that?” Minutello said in court. “Whose loved one is missing and they throw out their stuff?”

Berman served as a de-facto spokesperson for Durst after his wife's disappearance, but prosecutors and witnesses say she did much more. They say she told friends about how Durst admitted to killing his wife and how she helped him cover it up. Prosecutors want to use those statements in the trial, but Durst's lawyers are opposed. 

Prosecutors are focused on one statement in particular: Berman allegedly telling a friend that if anything happened to her, Durst would be responsible, the Associated Press reported. Durst's lawyers argued that the statement was hearsay and inadmissible. Judge Mark Windham said he was inclined to allow the testimony, but would hold off on a ruling right away. 

Prosecutors believe Durst killed his wife, and then murdered Berman to keep her from talking to authorities about it.

In 2003, Durst was charged for the murder of a neighbor he met while hiding out in Galveston, Texas, to escape questioning for his wife's murder. He disguised himself as a mute woman to escape media attention, and police believe he intended to live the rest of his life as a fugitive. During the trial for that case, he admitted to shooting Morris Black in self-defense and chopping up his body. His lawyers argued that Durst dismembered the body because he was in a traumatized state. He was acquitted.

[Photo: Getty]