Robert Durst convicted of first-degree murder

Robert Durst convicted of first-degree murder
Robert Durst faces life in prison if convicted of the murder of Susan Berman. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Robert Durst, the heir to the Durst Organization, a multimillion-dollar real estate group based in Manhattan, was convicted of first-degree murder on Friday for the execution-style killing of longtime friend Susan Berman. The decision is the first murder conviction for Durst, whose first wife, from New Hyde Park, disappeared nearly 40 years ago.  

According to multiple reports, the jury in Los Angeles upheld a special circumstance allegation that Durst killed Berman because she was a witness. California law states that Durst must be sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole.

Berman, a journalist, was found dead in 2000 on Christmas Eve, lying in a pool of blood after being shot in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home. 

Prosecutors claimed Durst first murdered Kathie McCormack, his first wife and New Hyde Park resident, who was looking to divorce him, then shot Berman to cover his tracks. Kathie McCormack disappeared on Jan. 31, 1982; her body was never found. Thirty-six years after her disappearance, McCormack was declared dead by a Manhattan court in 2017. 

Earlier this year, the Westchester County district attorney’s office reopened the cold case investigating McCormack’s disappearance. 

In a statement sent to News12, the McCormack family said via their attorneys: “Not a single day goes by that we do not think about our beautiful, smart and kind sister Kathleen. Today, more than ever before, it is clear that she was murdered by Robert Durst in Westchester County. The justice system in Los Angeles has finally served the Berman family. It is now time for Westchester to do the same for the McCormack family and charge Durst for the murder of his wife, Kathie, which occurred almost forty years ago.”

Durst was acquitted in the 2001 slaying of Morris Black, his elderly neighbor in Galveston, Texas, whose body was dismembered with an ax and bone saw. Prosecutors have tied the Black murder to alleged attempts by Durst to cover his tracks. 

On Twitter, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said: “The jury’s decision demonstrates how our legal system can work to hold accountable people regardless of their wealth and status in life. I want to commend our prosecution team and investigators for their diligent work to ultimately bring justice for those who have been waiting for more than 20 years.”

At the conclusion of the HBO true crime series “The Jinx” by filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, Durst, upon being confronted with new evidence in the murder of Berman, mutters to himself in the bathroom.

On a recording picked up by a live microphone, he says, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Efforts to reach Durst’s attorneys were unavailing.

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