(Updated with LA DA statement) Robert Durst, the infamous millionaire real-estate heir on trial for the 2000 murder of close friend Susan Berman in Benedict Canyon, was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday by a Los Angeles jury.
Durst, whose appearance in HBO’s six-part documentary series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst reignited interest in the case, was not in the courtroom when the verdict in Los Angeles Superior Court was read, having been in quarantine for potential exposure to Covid-19.
Under the laws of the Golden State, the 78-year old Durst could face up to 25 years in prison once he is sentenced. L.A. Superior Court Judge Mark Windham will sentence Durst on October 18.
“The jury’s decision demonstrates how our legal system can work to hold accountable people regardless of their wealth and status in life,” LA County District Attorney George Gascón said after the jury’s verdict was revealed today. “I want to commend our prosecution team and investigators for their diligent work to ultimately bring justice for those who have been waiting more than 20 years,” Gascón added.
With closing arguments over early this week, the jury at the Inglewood Courthouse took just over seven hours altogether to render their verdict. It should be noted that the jury did not meet on Thursday.
Durst himself took the stand in the Berman case for about three weeks, often arguing with prosecutors and contradicting his own previous statements or submitted evidence. He did however finally admit to penning a letter back in 2000 that tipped law enforcement off to her dead body in her home. Even before the trial began, Durst’s defense team said that it was also true their client had “discovered” Berman in her home laying in a growing pool of her own blood — but he didn’t kill the daughter of a Mafia bigwig.
It was Durst’s own off-camera admission of “What the hell did I do? … Killed ’em all, of course” in the March 2015 series finale of the Emmy and Peabody Award winning The Jinx that saw the long suspected murderer apprehended yet again by law enforcement. Arrested by the FBI on March 14 of that year on behalf of then LA. County D.A. Jackie Lacey’s office and apparent new evidence, Durst was extradited to the West Coast in fall 2015 to face California justice in a trial that has been going on ever since.
The subject of the 2010 film All Good Things, starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, Durst has never come clean about whether he murdered his wife Kathie McCormack Durst in the early 1980s. Though he was acquitted on self-defense in 2003, Durst has previously admitted to killing his Galveston, Texas rooming house neighbor Morris Black in 2001.
Originally starting in March 2020, Durst’s latest trial was put on ice for over a year due to the pandemic. Proceedings resumed in May of this year, with full safety protocols in effect.
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