By Claire Gordon • 15 October 2021 • 13:00
A California court has found Robert Durst guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Heir to a multi-million real estate fortune and subject of an HBO documentary The Jinx, the 78-year-old has been under intense media scrutiny for many years.
Now in poor health, he was handed the harshest sentence currently available in California. The death sentence is on hold in the state. It has been decided that in murdering his friend Susan Berman, he was actually killing a witness to a previous crime, circumstances which hold heavier sentencing weight in the US.
Through this jury decision, it is now thought to be true that Durst killed his first wife Kathleen in 1982. Durst seemed to confess to three different murders during the documentary filming after being grilled by the filmmaker Andrew Jerecki. Rebuffing the questions, he took himself to the bathroom. With his microphone still on, he spoke to himself and declared he “killed them all”.
It is thought that the victim Berman had known about the first murder and was about to hand evidence over to the police. This led to Durst laying in wait for her, then gunning her down. Durst had already escaped one murder charge in the past even though he had confessed to the crime. Morris Black, 71, his neighbour at a time he lived in Texas was killed and then dismembered by Durst. This occurred in 2001, a year after he had killed Susan Berman. He was acquitted on grounds of self-defence.
The HBO documentary looked to take another look at his crimes. The programme was filmed in 2015. He was arrested just before the final episode aired and has been in custody since. He will remain incarcerated until his death. Prosecutor John Lewin hopes he will do one ‘selfless’ thing before that day comes and disclose the location of his first wife’s body.
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