Approximately 40 years after his wife’s sudden disappearance, Robert A. Durst was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday after a cloud of suspicion was cast on his case, making it one of the most notorious in the country. confidante.
The 78-year-old Darst, whose life story influenced Hollywood films and HBO documentaries, is not eligible for parole. A jury convicted of a single murder in Los Angeles last month discovered that the prosecution proved a special situation. He studied as a liaison with the news media after his first wife, Kathy McCormack Dust, disappeared in 1982.
For the first time since the trial resumed in May, the court was full on Thursday and was attended by most juries.
Sitting in a wheelchair, Mr. Durst wore a brown prison jumper and surgical mask. He didn’t talk to the judge, and because of his deafness, he kept watching the tablet display the words spoken in court.
Deni Marcus, one of Berman’s cousins, said in a statement to the judge about the impact on the four victims: “I was robbed and my beautiful son was killed. I was robbed of a wonderful person. “
Another of Berman’s cousins, Dave Berman, held back tears, saying, “I visited her and told her I could rest in peace, justice was over.” He added that Mr. Dust should say where Mr. Dust’s body is so that her family can undergo some closure.
Prior to proclaiming the sentence, Judge Mark E. Wyndham denied the defense’s request for the new trial on the grounds of “overwhelming evidence of guilt.” The defense is expected to appeal.
Born into a family whose real estate empire in Manhattan is valued at about $ 8 billion today since his wife disappeared without a trace, Mr. Durst has led him to a far-reaching presence. He traveled between New York, California, and Texas and was tried in 2003 for the killing and dismantling of Morris Black, who lived across from him in a Galveston room house disguised as a silent woman. Was done.
Mr. Dust claimed self-defense, and the jury acquitted him despite his testimony that he sat in a pool of blood carving Morris’s body.
Durst’s longtime best friend, Berman, was found dead at his home on the edge of Beverly Hills on Christmas Eve 2000. Police were called in and found her after a neighbor saw her two dogs running freely. The back door is open. Mr. Berman was shot in the back of his head. There were no signs of forced entry and her wallet remained untouched.
“I think she was in love with Bobby,” Dave Berman said in a pre-judgment interview, adding that Berman met Darst while at a journalism school in California. “She gave him her at the wedding. There are more pictures of her hugging Bobby than she and her husband.”
Even when Mr. Dust was sentenced on Thursday, the investigation into the disappearance of his wife was moving forward again.
Miriam E. Roca, a district attorney in Westchester County, New York, where the couple lived in 1982, announced that her office had resumed the case this year. The prosecutor is interviewing witnesses and will seek a grand jury to prosecute a first-class murder next week.
Given the lack of witnesses, weapons, fingerprints, or bodies, it can be a challenge.
Mr. Durst had admitted in the past that he was a “bad husband,” but he has always claimed that he did not kill his wife. He also continued to deny Mr. Berman’s involvement in his death.
If he did not talk and talk about both cases and provide the investigators with traces of bread crumbs, contrary to all the advice from the lawyer, he may still be a free man. He interviewed the producer of the 2015 HBO documentary series “Jinx: Robert Durst’s Life and Death” for 20 hours, including many harmful admissions. (The documentary producer previously directed the movie All Good Things, starring Ryan Gosling as a character based on Mr. Durst.)
After being arrested in New Orleans in 2015 and charged with murdering Mr. Berman, Mr. Darst interviewed Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin for about three hours. Talkative Darst has also been recorded on hundreds of prison calls and has issued a less vigilant statement that prosecutors used against him in court.
The trial began in March 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic stopped living across the United States. When the testimony was set to resume in May, defense lawyers called the 14-month postponement the longest postponement featuring the same jury in US history.
After a few weeks of testimony, the jury deliberated about seven and a half hours before Mr. Durst was found guilty last month. He was not in court because of the verdict. He was quarantined after being exposed to a person who tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.
After the ruling, his wife’s family issued a statement calling for prosecution if Mr. Durst disappeared. “Cathy,” they wrote, “still waiting for justice.”