Millionaire Real Estate Heir Robert Durst Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2000 Murder
22:09 GMT 14.10.2021 (Updated: 02:00 GMT 15.10.2021)
Robert Durst was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for the murder of Susan Berman inside of her Los Angeles home in 2000.
The sentencing came after a five-month trial in which prosecutors argued that Durst murdered Berman to cover up the 1982 murder and disappearance of his wife, Kathie Durst, and that he also murdered a neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001.
The jury upheld the special circumstances conditions against Durst, which, under California law, allow for defendants convicted of special circumstances murder to either be sentenced to life without parole or be executed. The Los Angeles Country district attorney's office opted not to seek the death penalty, effectively sentencing him to life in prison without parole.
Berman's son, Sareb Kaufman, read a statement to the court detailing how much agony Durst's crime has caused him. "I have not had one day off in almost 21 years from the absolute destruction and pain that this had caused me, my mind body and soul tortured by the effect this has had on me for every second for 21 years," he said.
Kaufman continued, "I go to sleep angry, wake up angry, eat and drink angry," and added "I cant describe the PTSD or the nervous breakdown I am still trying to recover from, the extreme stress, depression and anxiety that fills my days," he said.
Durst was the subject of the 2015 HBO documentary series "The Jinx," which renewed interest in the disappearance of his wife and the murder of Susan Berman. At the end of the series, unaware that he was still being recorded, Durst is heard saying, "What the hell did I do? ... Killed them all, of course."
Durst is the son of New York real estate magnate Seymour Durst who invented the National Debt Clock and was an heir to the Durst Organization.
Berman and Durst became friends while at UCLA in the 1960s. The two would remain friends, with Durst walking Berman down the aisle in 1984. When Durst was initially under suspicion over the disappearance of his wife, Berman allegedly gave him an alibi and acted as his media spokesperson.
The closeness between the two, however, cost Berman her life. On December 24th, 2000, Berman was murdered execution style in her Los Angeles apartment. It wasn't until March of 2015 that Durst was arrested for her murder.
Durst was also arrested in 2001 for the murder of his neighbor, Morris Black, after parts of Black's body were found floating in Galveston Bay, Texas. Durst was acquitted of murder but confessed to accidentally killing and dismembering his body. He was found guilty of bail jumping and tampering with evidence and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Durst, now 78, will spend the rest of his life in a California prison.