Real property tycoon Robert Durst, accused of killing his shut buddy, anticipated to take the stand as we speak

Robert Durst's lawyers say he has bladder cancer and ask to postpone trial indefinitely

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.

He was arrested in New Orleans the evening earlier than the ultimate episode of the present, making the finale must-see TV. And in its ultimate moments, Durst went into the lavatory, apparently not realizing his microphone was nonetheless on, and made a collection of feedback that turned notorious.

“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.”

The feedback got here throughout to audiences as a surprising confession. However, transcripts of the audio recording in court docket revealed that the quotes have been spliced and edited to be in a special order and context, The New York Times has reported.

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.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham rejected Durst’s attorneys’ newest bid to delay or finish the trial due to his well being points. Durst has bladder cancer and has undergone a number of surgical procedures, together with the insertion of a shunt in his head to alleviate stress on his mind.

“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.

The jury in Texas accepted Durst’s self-defense assertion, acquitting him of murder.

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

Prosecutors allege that Durst shot Berman in the head from behind to cease her from incriminating him within the disappearance of this primary spouse, Kathleen, in 1982. They say Durst confided to Berman that he had killed Kathleen, and that she helped him cowl his tracks.

Durst will seemingly be cross-examined by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, who has relentlessly pursued Durst for Berman’s homicide.

Lewin and Durst squared off in a New Orleans jail cell in 2015 after Durst agreed to an interview that would last three hours, with out his attorneys current, making doubtlessly damaging claims and lamenting his many bodily illnesses.

“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.

But in a court docket submitting late final 12 months, attorneys for the true property mogul reversed course and acknowledged that Durst penned the anonymous note. “This does not change the fact that Bob Durst did not kill Susan Berman,” DeGuerin stated on the time.

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.

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