LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles prosecutors on Wednesday played parts of movies they said incriminate Robert Durst, the New York real estate heir charged with murdering his best friend to cover up his killing of his ex-wife.
Robert Durst sits for opening statements in his murder trial in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 4, 2020. Etienne Laurent/Pool via REUTERS
Durst, 76, was the subject of a 2015 Emmy-award winning HBO documentary, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” and a feature film about his marriage called “All Good Things.”
Jurors viewed clips from both films including scenes from “The Jinx” that drew renewed attention to the case. Durst was arrested in March 2015 the day before the final episode of “The Jinx” aired.
In the film, Durst was captured by microphone muttering off-camera to himself: “There it is, you’re caught,” and “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst is charged with the December 2000 murder of his long-time confidant, Susan Berman, because of what she might have known about the unsolved disappearance and presumed killing of his wife two decades earlier.
Durst has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
In the courtroom on Wednesday, Durst wore a navy blue blazer, his hair disheveled and a hearing aid tucked behind his ear.
Durst’s defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin objected to showing excerpts from the film “All the Good Things,” an account of his marriage played by actors. “This is improper,” DeGuerin declared. “What’s on the screen is made up.”
Deputy District Attorney countered testily: “You present what you want to present, and I’ll present what I want to present.”
Berman, 55, the daughter of an organized crime figure was found slain execution-style in her Beverly Hills home.
“She let the killer into her house, she turned her back to them … She wasn’t afraid of them, and then she was executed, shot in the head at very close range,” Lewin told the jury in his opening statement.
Berman’s death came after police in New York reopened an investigation into the fate of Durst’s spouse, Kathleen, who vanished in 1982. Durst insists he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
The circumstances surrounding both cases, and Durst’s 2003 acquittal in the killing and dismemberment of a Texas neighbor, were portrayed in “The Jinx.”
The prosecution’s theory is that Durst killed Kathleen Durst at their cottage outside New York City in January 1982, and Berman helped cover it up.
The trial is expected to last up to five months.
Reporting by Rachel Parsons in Los Angeles; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman