BENEDICT CANYON—On Friday, September 17, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office that real estate tycoon Robert Durst, 78, was found guilty for the 2000 murder of his friend, Susan Berman, 55, at her home.
“The jury’s decision demonstrates how our legal system can work to hold accountable people regardless of their wealth and status in life,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “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.”
A jury deliberated for several hours before finding Durst guilty of one count of first-degree murder. The panel also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder of a witness and lying in wait. His sentencing is scheduled for October 18. He was convicted of killing Berman on December 23, 2000, by shooting her once in the back of the head. Her body was found on Christmas Eve.
During his trial, prosecutors said Durst murdered Berman because she knew details about what happened to Durst’s wife, Kathie, who disappeared on January 31, 1982, while the couple lived in New York. She has not been found.
In August 2021, Superior Court Judge Mark Windham denied suspected killer Robert Durst, a mistrial due to his health calling Durst, “mentally present.” Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, requested a mistrial stating “He’s [Durst] too sick to make the decision whether to testify. It’s cruel and unusual for Mr. Durst to be put through this in his condition. You should put a stop to this.”
“He has endured 11 weeks of trial, but remains mentally present,” Judge Windham replied.
Public records indicate on March 14, 2015, Durst was arrested by the FBI in connection with the murder of Berman. Berman’s shooting was viewed as a gang hit initially. Information surfaced that New York Police Department (NYPD) Investigator, Joseph Becerra had been talking to Berman regarding the 1982 murder of Kathleen.
Durst moved to a Texas coastal town disguised as a woman with the same name as a childhood acquaintance, Dorothy Ciner. At times, he went by Durst, a relative of Ciner. While dressed as a woman, Durst was arrested while stealing a sandwich.
In 2001, he was wanted for the death of his neighbor, Morris Black, whose body washed ashore in Galveston, Texas, dismembered. Durst was not charged for Black’s murder citing that it was in a fight over a gun and Black was shot. He did admit to cutting up the body of Black and served time in prison for the crime.
He was arrested in New Orleans in March 2015 for the murder and brought back to Los Angeles. The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.