LOS ANGELES — It is maybe fitting that the defense staff for Robert A. Durst, the a person-time heir to a Manhattan true estate empire who is on trial for murder, is now ensconced in the luxurious Peninsula Resort in Beverly Hills.
It was over breakfast at that lodge in 2010 that Mr. Durst made the fateful decision to cooperate with a filmmaker, Andrew Jarecki, in the end agreeing to give much more than 20 hrs of interviews and access to 60 cartons of his private papers.
His determination to crack his silence at the hotel — after just about four decades of being trailed by suspicions that he was concerned in the deaths of a few people today in a few states — led in no small way to an HBO documentary, “The Jinx: The Life and Fatalities of Robert Durst,” in 2015 and his subsequent arrest on murder rates in the execution-type killing of his close mate Susan Berman in Los Angeles in December 2000.
The lawyers have proven a war area at the lodge to program their defense of Mr. Durst versus the prosecution’s contention that their customer executed Ms. Berman mainly because he was afraid that she was about to reveal to the authorities her purpose in supporting him address-up the disappearance and murder of his initially spouse, Kathie, in 1982.
The prosecution also maintains that Mr. Durst killed a neighbor, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas, wherever Mr. Durst had gone to hide following discovering in Oct 2000 of a new investigation into his wife’s disappearance.
In a vigorous opening assertion from the protection on Tuesday, David Z. Chesnoff advised the jury that there were no fingerprints, blood, DNA or fibers linking Mr. Durst to Ms. Berman’s loss of life, the only slaying with which he has been billed.
“We think the absence of evidence is proof that Bob is not guilty,” Mr. Chesnoff claimed.
As for Mr. Black’s slaying, a jury acquitted Mr. Durst in 2003, reported Dick DeGuerin, Mr. Chesnoff’s co-counsel, in spite of Mr. Durst’s testimony about carving up the body and dumping it in Galveston Bay.
Still left largely untouched on Tuesday is what lies at the heart of the prosecution’s scenario: Mr. Durst’s very own statements from 20 several hours of interviews with the producers of “The Jinx,” coupled with his numerous jail household mobile phone calls and his approximately three-hour interview with John Lewin, deputy district lawyer of Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, Mr. DeGuerin attacked “The Jinx,” which he said was a “deviously misleading and heavily edited television creation, not a documentary.” Even though it will not be performed in court, the prosecution ideas to show jurors the uncooked unedited interviews with Mr. Durst.
In his have phrases, Mr. Durst conceded that he and his spouse had a “pushing and shoving” battle the night time she disappeared, months ahead of her graduation from clinical faculty. He admitted lying to the police about his whereabouts when she disappeared. In current a long time, he has acknowledged that the couple’s marriage had been marked by his violence against her.
He explained to Mr. Lewin in 2015 that Ms. Berman had advised him soon before she was killed that she was planning to speak to the investigators on the lookout into Mrs. Durst’s disappearance. Investigators had long suspected that Ms. Berman, who was fiercely faithful to Mr. Durst, knew his techniques.
“It’s a lengthy and complicated tale due to the fact Mr. Durst committed a lot of crimes,” Mr. Lewin claimed as he concluded his unusually extensive and detailed 3-day opening statement for the prosecution. “As you are listening, some of the most detrimental elements of this scenario are heading to arrive from him.”
And although there could be little “forensic proof,” there is the simple fact that Mr. Durst was in Ms. Berman’s household all around the time of her dying.
After 20 years of denying that Mr. Durst was in Los Angeles or at Ms. Berman’s house, his attorneys now say that Mr. Durst had explained to Ms. Berman — a near good friend given that the 1960s when they equally attended UCLA — that he was scheduling to visit her in excess of the Christmas vacations, information that she excitedly relayed to her pals.
Mr. Durst had also denied for 20 yrs that he wrote an anonymous letter alerting the police to a lifeless physique at Ms. Berman’s dwelling. The letter was postmarked Dec. 23, 2000, the working day ahead of the law enforcement discovered Ms. Berman at her property in a pool of blood with a gunshot wound to the back of her head.
In their opening statement on Tuesday, the defense lawyers told the jury that Mr. Durst experienced utilized his key to enter Ms. Berman’s dwelling. “Bob showed up and discovered her lifeless and he panicked,” Mr. DeGuerin mentioned. “He wrote the nameless letter so her physique would be observed and he ran. He’s run absent all his lifestyle.”
The tale of Mr. Durst, the alienated scion of a New York real estate spouse and children, has ample twists and turns to call for a navigation app. And there is one thing in the tale for all people who has ever picked up a thriller: murder mysteries, cross-dressing, a nationwide manhunt a well known authentic estate spouse and children, a betrayal of biblical proportions and allegations of a protect-up.
“I’ve never ever noticed a far more interesting situation in my job,” Decide Mark E. Windham mentioned all through jury choice.
The prosecution says that Ms. Berman created a vital telephone contact right after Mrs. Durst disappeared, just after a weekend away with her spouse at their cottage north of Manhattan, that threw the investigation off course. Posing as his wife, Ms. Berman called a health care school dean expressing that she would not attend a clinic rotation that working day. 4 times afterwards, Mr. Durst walked into a Manhattan law enforcement station to report that his spouse was lacking.
The story, which concentrated on Manhattan somewhat than the couple’s suburban cottage, was huge headlines in the city’s tabloids. Mainly because there was no physique and no indication of her, the circumstance eventually faded away.
In late 2000, Mr. Durst realized that investigators experienced reopened the case and he fled to Texas, where by he rented an condominium for $300 a month and posed as a mute woman.
A brief time later, Ms. Berman was located dead in Los Angeles. Originally, suspicion fell on her landlady and her agent. But they were being soon cleared and detectives turned to Mr. Durst, who at the time was in jail on charges of killing Mr. Black.
As the defense depicted Mr. Durst as an odd and pathetic determine who unsuccessful to choose up on social cues, Mr. Lewin painted Mr. Durst as a person who hardly ever played by the procedures, who would destroy when backed into a corner.
“Evidence will present,” lots of issues, Mr. Lewin told the jury, like that “Bob Durst is a man or woman who is likely to secure and choose care of Bob Durst.”