A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has tossed out the wrongful death lawsuit against Robert Durst, the American real estate heir who was accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen, in the 1980s.
On Tuesday, August 6, Supreme Court Justice Paul Goetz ruled that the victim’s sister, Carol Bamonte, had let too much time pass before filing a suit against Durst, according to the New York Post. The statute of limitations prohibits litigation after two years.
Kathleen disappeared in 1982. Durst told prosecutors the couple had gotten in a fight and that afterward, he had taken her to a train station, but she was never seen again — and her body was never recovered. The case, which for nearly 20 years remained unsolved, was reopened in 2000.
Bamonte, who filed a complaint against Durst in March, said that Durst murdered her sister because she had knowledge of his illicit business dealings involving his family, which she intended to make public. Durst’s ex-wife’s family have long suspected his involvement in Kathleen’s death.
Durst, 76, is also accused of murdering his friend Susan Berman, who prosecutors claim was killed by the real estate heir in an attempt to silence her days before she was supposed to speak to detectives about Kathleen’s death. Authorities found her with a bullet wound to the back of her head in her California home on Christmas Eve in 2000.
Durst, who’s currently incarcerated, is expected to stand trial for the killing in January 2020, according to the New York Daily News.
Bamonte’s attorney argued for an exception to the statute of limitations in the wrongful death case involving Durst’s ex-wife, pointing out that Berman’s alleged murder was connected to her disappearance. However, Goetz, the Manhattan Supreme Court judge, disagreed.
“The California criminal action and this action for wrongful death clearly arise from different events,” he concluded. The justice did note, though, that an exception could apply if Durst is successfully charged in Berman’s murder. Durst denies any involvement in her slaying.
“In 1982, Kathleen Durst disappeared,” Durst’s lawyer Joshua Siegel, said in court in July, according to the New York Post. “The plaintiffs had two years to bring that claim. Robert Durst has never been convicted of, much less arrested or charged in connection with, the murder of Kathleen Durst."
In 2003, Durst was also accused of murdering Morris Black, his elderly neighbor in Galveston, Texas, but was ultimately acquitted by arguing he acted in self-defense, despite confessing to using two saws, a paring knife, and an ax to dismember the 71-year-old, whose body parts he later dumped in a bay nearby, ABC reported.
In 2015, HBO aired “The Jinx,” a documentary examining the murder accusations that have followed Durst for much of his life. Producers captured Durst whispering to himself on a hot mic, where he seemingly confessed to all the killings. “What the hell did I do?” he said. “Killed them all, of course.”
The next day, Durst was arrested in a New Orleans hotel room with $40,000, a loaded handgun, a sizable quantity of marijuana, and a mask prosecutors say he planned to use as a disguise, according to an affidavit obtained by CNN.At the time, authorities believed he was about to flee to Cuba.
Despite his apparent confession, Durst maintains his innocence.
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