Durst is charged with the first-degree homicide of his shut buddy and confidante, Susan Berman, in 2000, at her Beverly Hills residence, hours earlier than she was set to speak to investigators concerning the mysterious disappearance of his first spouse, Kathleen McCormack Durst, who was final seen in 1982.
Durst has lengthy denied killing Berman, and his lawyer has stated that he panicked and ran after discovering her physique. He has pleaded not responsible.
The trial started early final 12 months however was suspended in March 2020 after just some days because of the coronavirus pandemic. It lastly resumed this May, and prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday after a number of months of testimony.
Durst’s anticipated testimony is simply the most recent saga in an uncommon life that reached mass audiences by means of “The Jinx” miniseries in 2015.
“There it is. You’re caught,” he stated in a collection of seemingly unrelated sentences. “He was right. I was wrong.”
“What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst’s well being has deteriorated since then, and he seems to be and sounds frail in court docket. At 78, he’s skinny, bent-over and in a wheelchair and speaks in a whispery voice.
“I’m worried about his health,” his longtime legal professional Dick DeGuerin stated. “I’m worried about his ability to survive and his ability to understand complex questions, both direct and cross-examination.”
What to count on from his testimony
Testifying in a single’s personal protection is rare for homicide defendants, however the tactic labored for Durst in a earlier homicide trial.
In 2003, an animated Durst testified he had fatally shot a neighbor, Morris Black, in self-defense and admitted he minimize up his physique with surgical precision and dumped it in Galveston Bay. He stated he did so in a panic, whereas prosecutors stated he wished to steal the person’s identification and escape the investigation of his spouse’s disappearance.
The Texas homicide trial revealed extra about Durst’s usually eccentric habits, together with how he posed as a mute lady as he hid out in Galveston.
Durst’s testimony is predicted to final a number of days, and authorized analysts warning that he must be cautious along with his phrases.
His “testimony could open the door to all types of prior bad conduct that he could be questioned about,” stated Source authorized analyst Joey Jackson. “If the jury thinks he’s lying, being evasive or if he’s unsympathetic, a conviction is assured.”
The medical points may additionally come into play.
“There is a still a slight chance of raising the sympathy of someone on the jury,” stated Loyola Law School Professor Stan Goldman.
But Jackson believes Durst must be cautious about how jurors understand his medical points. “If he testifies and feigns sickness or incapacity, the jury will see right through it,” Jackson quipped.
Also, Judge Windham may nonetheless delay the trial as a result of Durst’s poor well being, Goldman stated.
“That’s if the judge changes his mind and determines Durst’s condition makes him unfit to testify at this time or in the foreseeable future,” Goldman stated.
How we acquired right here
Durst will seemingly be cross-examined by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, who has relentlessly pursued Durst for Berman’s homicide.
“My life expectancy is about five years,” the eccentric millionaire stated within the 2015 interview.
There is little bodily proof in Berman’s practically 20-year-old unsolved demise. There aren’t any eyewitnesses and no homicide weapon.
One key piece of proof is the so-called “cadaver” observe, a cryptic letter despatched to police with Berman’s tackle and the phrase “cadaver” in caps that led detectives to her physique.
In the HBO documentary “The Jinx,” Durst stated the letter may have been despatched solely by Berman’s killer. Defense attorneys beforehand denied Durst wrote the observe, they usually tried to exclude from trial handwriting proof about it.
Also within the documentary, filmmakers confronted Durst with one other letter he as soon as mailed Berman, with practically an identical handwriting to the “cadaver” observe. In each, Beverly Hills was misspelled as “BEVERLEY.”
Lewin, within the interview with Durst, requested him, “Why would you think the killer would have left a note?”
“I’m gonna stay away from that,” Durst replied.
Source’s Augie Martin and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.