New York millionaire Robert Durst guilty of best friend’s murder

The 78-year-old Durst will appeal against the conviction, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

New York millionaire Robert Durst guilty of best friend’s murder

A Los Angeles jury on Friday convicted millionaire Robert Durst of murdering his best friend 20 years ago in a case that seized the attention of the public and provided years of fodder for New York’s tabloids.

The New York real estate heir, who faces a mandatory life term without parole when sentenced on October 18, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Susan Berman.

She was shot at point-blank range in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home in December 2000 as she prepared to tell police how she helped cover up Durst’s wife’s killing.

Robert Durst Murder Trial
Robert Durst in court earlier this month (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/AP/Pool)

Durst, 78, was not in court for the verdict from the jury that deliberated for some seven hours over three days. He was in isolation in prison after being exposed to a person with coronavirus.

Prosecutors painted a portrait of a rich narcissist who did not think the laws applied to him and ruthlessly disposed of people who stood in his way.

They interlaced evidence of Ms Berman’s killing with Kathie Durst’s suspected death in 1982 and the 2001 killing of a tenant in a Texas flophouse where Robert Durst holed up while on the run from New York authorities.

The saga took on new life after the New York real estate heir participated in a documentary that connected him to Ms Berman’s killing.

Robert Durst Murder Trial
Robert Durst in a 2017 court appearance (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool, File)

Durst could be heard muttering to himself on a live microphone in a bathroom: “There it is. You’re caught.”

Durst’s decision to testify in his own defence — hoping for a repeat of his acquittal in the Texas killing — backfired as he was forced to admit lying under oath, made damning admissions and had his credibility destroyed when questioned by the prosecutor.

Defence lawyer David Chesnoff said Friday they believed there was “substantial reasonable doubt” and were disappointed in the verdict. He said Durst would pursue all avenues of appeal.

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