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Robert Durst Will Stand Trial For Murder Of Friend Susan Berman
Prosecutors say the notorious real estate heir killed Berman so she wouldn't give investigators evidence that he killed his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, in 1982.
Infamous real estate heir Robert Durst will stand trial for the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman, a Los Angeles judge ruled Thursday.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark E. Windham issued the ruling after two weeks of preliminary hearings, NBC News reports. The proceedings included testimony from filmmakers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling, whose HBO documentary “The Jinx” brought to light Durst’s alleged involvement in two unsolved murders - those of Berman and his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst.
In the finale of the documentary series, Durst, alone in a bathroom and apparently unaware he was still on microphone, seemed to confess to the murders, whispering to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Despite the documentary audio, Durst has denied involvement in Berman's murder.
On March 14, 2015, hours before "The Jinx" finale aired, Durst was arrested for Berman’s murder at a hotel in New Orleans. He was carrying more than $40,000 in cash, a substantial amount of marijuana, a loaded pistol and a latex mask for altering his appearance, according to court documents. Police suspected he was planning to flee to Cuba, according to CNN.
Susan Berman, a writer and college friend of Durst’s, was found shot once in the back of the head on Christmas Eve in 2000. At the time of her murder, Berman had agreed to talk to investigators about the 1982 disappearance of Kathleen McCormack Durst, whose missing persons case had been reopened as a criminal investigation earlier in the year. Prosecutors say Durst murdered her to keep her from cooperating.
Durst wasn't charged at the time, but he would soon find himself in different legal trouble. In 2003, Durst was tried and acquitted of the murder of Morris Black, his neighbor in Galveston, Texas, who he claimed to have killed in self-defense, then dismembered his body and threw the parts into the ocean.
Durst grew up the heir to a substantial fortune, and his family owns and runs The Durst Organization, one of New York City’s most respected and successful real estate businesses. He is estranged from his family, who maintain a restraining order against him. In January 1982, his wife Kathleen went missing and her family has long suspected Durst’s involvement in her disappearance. Three of her siblings are pursuing a $100 million wrongful death case against him over her presumed death.
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Durst will be arraigned on Nov. 8, and if convicted, faces a possible life sentence without the possibility of parole.
[Photo: Getty Images]