'The Jinx - The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst' on HBO

Ken H

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And now in the category of 'it worked once before, so let's do it again!".

Admitting the unthinkable, Robert Durst's legal defense team filed a court document on December 24, 2019, doing a 180 degree turn on over a decade of Durst denying he wrote the 'cadaver note'.
Not to toot my own horn too much, but I predicted this here at HTF on back on July 20th of this year.

For those of you just tuning in, Durst's current legal defense team for the Berman murder is the same one as got him off for murdering Morris Black in 2001, by claiming self defense. They had Durst 'admit the unthinkable' and say he dismembered Black. Durst was subsequently acquitted of murder, and copped a plea for tampering with evidence and bail jumping; all in all, he was behind bars about 5 years.

Now they are pulling the same stunt again and having Durst admit writing a note that even Durst himself says must have been written by the murderer.....

My next prediction says The Jinx producers are considering their options for how to approach what has been happening since The Jinx originally aired in 2015, and what will happen as the trial plays out. What they really need to cover all the bases is a gun ship helicopter breakout attempt from a California prison, if, big if, Durst gets convicted.
 
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Ken H

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The long awaited trial is now in process, with jury seating just wrapped up.

From The LA Times

Jurors seated in Robert Durst murder trial
By Matt Hamilton, Feb. 27, 2020

A jury was chosen in Los Angeles on Thursday in the murder trial of millionaire Robert Durst, capping a weeklong selection process in a case expected to last into the summer and draw international media attention.

The eight-woman, four-man panel was sworn in at a courtroom in the Airport Courthouse near LAX as Durst, 76, looked on.

Durst is accused of killing his friend and confidant, Susan Berman, in her Benedict Canyon home in December 2000. Prosecutors allege he shot Berman to prevent her from incriminating him in the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen “Kathie” McCormack Durst.

An eccentric heir to a Manhattan real estate fortune, Durst has repeatedly denied killing Berman. No one has ever been charged in the disappearance of Kathie Durst.

Durst was arrested in New Orleans in 2015, the day before the finale of the HBO docu-series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which chronicled his erratic life, the disappearance of his wife and the killings of Berman and Morris Black, a neighbor of his in Galveston, Texas, whom he admitted to shooting and dismembering. He was tried for Black’s murder but claimed self-defense and was acquitted.

Durst’s lawyers have also maintained his innocence in Berman’s death this week in front of prospective jurors.

“It sounds like he did it,” said one potential juror, a driver for Ralph’s.

“Let me clear that up,” defense attorney Chip Lewis replied. “He didn’t kill Kathie Durst. He didn’t kill Susan Berman.”

Also on Thursday, attorneys began the process of seating another 12 people to serve as alternate jurors in the trial, which is expected to last up to five months and feature dozens of witnesses.

Judge Mark E. Windham told the panel to return Wednesday for the anticipated start of opening statements. One woman seemed stunned to make it onto the jury.

“I’m sorry, I just blacked out a little,” she told the judge. Windham reminded her to return Wednesday morning for the lengthy trial.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-27/robert-durst-trial-12-selected-for-murder-trial
 

Ken H

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From The Guardian
March 4, 2020


Robert Durst: Berman murder trial opens with jury watching The Jinx


Prosecution claims HBO film ‘confession’ proves 76-year-old killed his confidant to stop her revealing secrets about his wife’s death


Robert Durst in court on the first day of his murder trial in Los Angeles when it was alleged he killed Susan Berman to silence her. Photograph: Reuters

Jurors have watched clips from an Emmy-award winning documentary and a feature film about Robert Durst, a New York real estate heir charged with murdering his best friend to cover up his killing of his ex-wife.

Durst, 76, was the subject of an HBO documentary in 2015 called The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst that drew renewed attention to the case after prosecutors alleged he had confessed to the killings in an unguarded moment caught on a microphone.

At the first day of his murder trial in Los Angeles, the jury was played the clip in which Durst allegedly mutters: “There it is, you’re caught,” and: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

He was arrested in March 2015, the day before the final episode of The Jinx aired.

Durst is charged with the December 2000 murder of his long-time confidant, Susan Berman, because of what she might have known about the unsolved disappearance and presumed killing of his wife two decades earlier.

Durst has pleaded not guilty. If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In the courtroom on Wednesday, Durst wore a navy blue blazer, his hair disheveled and a hearing aid tucked behind his ear.

Durst’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, objected to the jury being shown more clips, this time from the 2012 film All the Good Things, an account of his marriage starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst.

“This is improper,” DeGuerin said. “What’s on the screen is made up.”

But John Lewin, deputy district attorney, countered: “You present what you want to present, and I’ll present what I want to present.”

Berman, 55, the daughter of an organized crime figure and author of the 1981 memoir Easy Street: The True Story of a Mob Family, was found killed execution-style in her Beverly Hills home.

“She let the killer into her house, she turned her back to them … She wasn’t afraid of them and then she was executed, shot in the head at very close range,” Lewin told the jury in his opening statement.

Berman’s death came after police in New York reopened an investigation into the fate of Dursts wife, Kathleen, who vanished in 1982. Durst insists he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

The circumstances surrounding both cases, and Durst’s 2003 acquittal in the killing and dismemberment of a former neighbour in Texas, were portrayed in The Jinx.

DeGuerin helped Durst get acquitted in the Texas murder trial, when Durst testified that he had dismembered and disposed of his neighbour, Morris Black, but his death had been an accident in a struggle over a gun.

The prosecution’s theory is that Durst killed his wife at their cottage outside New York City in January 1982 and Berman helped cover it up.

Prosecutors have alleged that just days after Kathleen Durst’s death her husband enlisted Berman, whom he had met as a student at UCLA in the 1960s, to act as his media spokeswoman and to help him cover up the killing. At one point they claim that Berman posed as Kathie Durst in a phone call to her medical school to demonstrate that she was still alive.

The trial is expected to last up to five months.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news...erman-trial-opens-with-jury-watching-the-jinx
 

Ken H

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From The Los Angeles Times


Robert Durst trial: Victim’s lie about speaking to police ‘sealed her fate,’ prosecutors say


Real estate heir Robert Durst, 76, sits Thursday during the second day of his murder trial in Los Angeles.
(Robyn Beck / Pool Photo)

By Matt Hamilton, March 5, 2020

Susan Berman told her close friend Robert Durst that police had contacted her, hoping to speak with her about the mysterious disappearance of Durst’s wife.

It was a lie, and Durst wouldn’t learn that for 15 years. But he said he reluctantly agreed Berman could talk to detectives: “What am I going to say, no?,” he said in an interview prepared for the HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”

Los Angeles County prosecutors alleged Thursday that Durst’s permission concealed a violent plan that climaxed in 2000 with Berman’s killing.

“It was that statement by Susan Berman to Bob Durst that sealed her fate,” Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lewin said during the second day of his opening statements in the murder trial for Durst, who has pleaded not guilty.

Berman was found dead in her Benedict Canyon home on Christmas Eve and the fateful events of that year occupied much of Lewin’s address to the 12 jurors and 11 alternates in the compact courtroom near Los Angeles International Airport.

According to prosecutors, Durst was panicking because New York authorities had reopened the investigation into the 1982 disappearance of Kathleen Durst. Berman acted as Durst’s spokeswoman and prosecutors said she provided a “false alibi” for Durst, posing as the missing wife in a phone call to her medical school. The phone call bolstered the impression that Kathleen Durst was alive.

In a recording aired for the jurors, Durst summed up his reaction to the renewed inquiry: “I’ve been guilty for years in the newspapers … now they really are going to find me guilty.”

The eccentric heir to a New York real estate fortune began stockpiling cash, prosecutors said, and procured a shabby apartment in Galveston, Texas, where he planned to live disguised as a mute woman. He signed over power of attorney to his erstwhile girlfriend, Debrah Lee Charatan. He then asked Charatan to marry him, and in early December of 2000, the pair tied the knot.

A rabbi chosen from the phone book officiated. Lewin said Durst was open about the transactional purpose of the nuptials.

“I had to have Debrah to write my checks. I was setting myself up to be a fugitive,” Durst said in a recorded jail phone call.

By Dec. 19, 2000, he was boarding a flight to Eureka, in Northern California. Durst has claimed the trip’s purpose was to settle his affairs there; he owned a home in nearby Trinidad.

Prosecutors said he picked up his Ford Explorer and a series of phone calls to his personal voice mailbox place him in Garberville, on Dec. 21, about 90 miles south of his home in Trinidad.

The mileage on the Explorer is consistent with the 1,150-mile round-trip drive from Garberville to Berman’s home and back to San Francisco on the night of Dec. 23, Lewin said. Berman was shot dead in her home sometime between the night of Dec. 22 and the morning of Dec. 23, according to coroner’s records.

In San Francisco, Durst boarded a red-eye for New York City — a rare mode of transport for Durst. In an interview with prosecutors in 2015, Durst struggled to explain why his cross-country trip was so brief.

“I can’t explain it,” he told Lewin.

Lewin told jurors that New York detectives had zeroed in on Berman in their re-investigation into Kathleen Durst’s disappearance, but because of her intimate proximity to Durst, they had refrained from any contact.

It’s unclear why Berman lied to Durst. She was in dire straits financially, and her career was struggling. Prosecutors said she had trouble paying rent before Durst offered her a lifeline: he sent her $50,000 in the two months before she was killed.

The prosecution’s opening statements are set to conclude Monday.

https://www.latimes.com/california/...rosecutors-argue-in-robert-durst-murder-trial
 

Ken H

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From The New York Post


Robert Durst’s second wife should be charged with bigamy, lawyer says


By Rebecca Rosenberg in Los Angeles

March 6, 2020


Debrah Lee Charatan leaves the Federal Courthouse in Philadelphia in 2004 after attending a bail hearing for her husband, Robert Durst. Don Murray

The second wife of scandalized real estate scion Robert Durst should be charged with bigamy and helping to cover up three murders, according to a bombshell letter sent to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Thursday.

Durst married Debrah Charatan and gave her power of attorney over his millions days before he allegedly shot and killed his best friend, Susan Berman, in her Beverly Hills home Dec. 23, 2000.

But during the marriage, Charatan lived with another man, attorney Steven Holm, who she referred to as her husband and “soul mate” until his death in 2019, the letter states.

“There is no question that while married to Mr. Durst, Mrs. Charatan purported to contract a marriage with Steven Holm,” wrote lawyer Robert Abrams, who represents the sister of Durst’s first wife, Kathie, who vanished in 1982. “Plain and simple, she violated the law; she is a bigamist.”

Prosecutors alleged that Durst killed Berman to prevent her from cooperating with a fresh probe into Kathie’s alleged murder for which Durst is the prime suspect.

The bigamy allegation comes two days into Durst’s LA murder trial for the execution-style slaying of Berman.

LA prosecutor John Lewin has repeatedly referenced Charatan’s role in helping Durst elude justice during his opening statement.

Lewin called the union a “marriage of convenience” and said that the pair wed in an office building using a rabbi plucked from a phonebook.

“Defendant needed Charatan to handle his financial responsibilities, to provide assistance while he eluded authorities, and to carry on his affairs if he were ever captured, convicted and incarcerated,” Lewin wrote in court papers. He has argued that Berman’s murder is inextricably tied to Durst’s killing of Kathie and his neighbor, Morris Back, in 2001.

A few weeks after Berman’s death, Durst went underground in Galveston, Texas, and disguised himself as a mute woman.

He befriended Black but allegedly killed and dismembered him when their relationship soured. LA prosecutors argued that Durst shot Black to prevent him from exposing his identity and sordid past.

After Durst’s arrest for Black’s death, Charatan wired him $250,000 for bail and helped him build a defense team that ultimately got him acquitted of murder, Lewin told jurors.

In the letter to the Manhattan DA, Abrams said that Charatan and Durst never acted as husband and wife other than asserting spousal privilege when dealing with law enforcement. Authorities can’t compel Charatan to provide evidence or testify against Durst because she’s his wife.

“Their marriage was part of a scheme,” he wrote. “Mrs. Charatan-Holm has been paid tens of millions of dollars through Durst Family Trusts as compensation for her participation in that conspiracy.”

Durst comes from one of New York’s richest real estate families. In 2006, he cut ties with the Durst Organization in exchange for $65 million. He gave $20 million of that sum to Charatan.

While Charatan allegedly helped Durst evade justice, she built a life with Holm. She and Holm jointly owned property and founded a charity together. She at times asked to be referred to as “Mrs. Charatan-Holm,” Abrams wrote.

At Holm’s funeral, Charatan gave a eulogy and referred to herself as Holm’s wife as did others who spoke, the letter said. A series of obituaries in The New York Times written by the Holm and Charatan families referred to her as his wife, the letter states.

A month after the obituaries ran, Charatan sent a letter to The New York Times, stating, “we were never married” and asking that the error be corrected. It wasn’t.

Abram’s letter urges Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. to hold Charatan accountable for allegedly entering into a sham marriage to help Durst get away with his murder spree. “I request that you show Mrs. Charatan-Holm that she must answer for her crime,” he wrote.

The DA’s office and Charatan’s criminal defense lawyer, who is attending Durst’s LA trial, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

https://nypost.com/2020/03/06/robert-dursts-second-wife-should-be-charged-with-bigamy-lawyer-says/
 

Ken H

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From CNN, March 11, 2020

Robert Durst found his friend's body and ran, attorney says, but he didn't pull the trigger
By Paul Vercammen and Ray Sanchez

Robert Durst's attorney acknowledged Tuesday it was the infamous real estate mogul who found Susan Berman's body in 2000. He panicked and ran, the lawyer said, but he did not kill his friend and confidante.

The concession came during defense attorney Dick DeGuerin's opening statement in Durst's murder trial, which got underway last week.
Co-counsel Chip Lewis confirmed to CNN that his client, Durst, will take the witness stand during the trial.

Durst, 76, was arrested and charged in March 2015 with killing Berman. He is accused of shooting her in the head at her Beverly Hills home two days before Christmas in 2000.

Only a few months ago, he admitted writing a note that led police to find her body, but he has repeatedly denied killing her and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

The day she died, Berman was scheduled to talk to police about Durst's first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, who disappeared in 1982. Prosecutors allege Durst killed Berman to keep her from incriminating him.

Berman had been Durst's confidant since their days at UCLA, prosecutor John Lewin said last week. The daughter of a notorious mobster, Berman would "go to almost any length to protect" Durst, he told the jury.

Lewin also laid out his case for how he believed Kathie Durst disappeared while she was apparently en route to medical school in New York. She was declared legally dead in 2017.

Kathie Durst's body was never found, and Robert Durst has not been charged in her death. Still, Lewin spent a lot of time last week talking about their troubled marriage, at times drawing objections from the defense.

In the late 1980s, Berman had fallen on hard times financially, and Durst gave Berman large amounts of money in exchange for guarding his secret, Lewin said. Berman was killed hours before she was due to speak with police about the disappearance of Durst's first wife, he said.

"Susan knew her killer and ... she freely and voluntarily let the killer into her house," Lewin said.

The now-frail Durst is confined to a cell in a prison medical unit, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The trial could last several months. The case centers largely on circumstantial evidence, including Durst's infamous muttering on the 2015 HBO documentary "The Jinx" that he had "killed them all." There are also potentially incriminating statements he made during a three-hour interview with Lewin after his arrest in New Orleans.

There are no eyewitnesses and no murder weapon.

A key piece of evidence is the so-called "cadaver" note, a cryptic letter sent to police with Berman's address and the word "cadaver" in caps that led detectives to her body.

In "The Jinx," Durst said the letter could have been sent only by Berman's killer.

Defense lawyers previously denied Durst wrote it but later 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 said at the time.

Immediately after the last shot of "The Jinx" finale, Durst went into the bathroom, apparently not realizing his microphone was still on. After a rambling series of seemingly unrelated sentences, he muttered, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."

The defense has said it will show Durst's statements were heavily edited and not uttered in the order in which they appear in the documentary.

CNN's Paul Vercammen reported from Los Angeles and Ray Sanchez reported and wrote from New York. CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/10/us/robert-durst-trial-defense-opening/index.html
 
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Ken H

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From The NY Post, March 12, 2020

Robert Durst’s missing wife ‘testifies’ through mentor at his trial
By Rebecca Rosenberg and Bruce Golding

Robert Durst’s first wife described being badly beaten by him and fearing for her life before she went missing nearly 40 years ago, her medical school mentor testified Thursday at his murder trial.

“She said, ‘Should anything happen to me, you make sure you don’t let the bastard get away with it,’” Dr. Marion Watlington told jurors.

Watlington also said she “had this sick feeling” when she saw Kathie McCormack Durst’s photo illustrating an article in The Post about her disappearance.

But Watlington said she was basically dismissed when she called the cops at a phone number included in the report.

“I will never forget those words,” Watlington testified in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

“They were very quick to say, ‘Yes, yes, we’ve heard from other people about this’ — and hung up on me.”

Watlington’s testimony came on Day Six of Durst’s trial in the murder of his best friend, Susan Berman, whom prosecutors allege he shot execution-style in 2000 to keep her from cooperating with a renewed investigation into his suspected slaying of Kathie.

Watlington — who befriended Kathie at Western Connecticut State University when Kathie studied nursing there, then mentored her when she attended Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx — said Kathie told her about being so badly hurt by Durst that she needed hospital treatment and had photos taken to document her injuries.

Kathie was preparing to divorce Durst, Watlington said, but “wanted to get paperwork and things like that to justify a proper type of settlement” from the now-76-year-old New York City real estate scion.

His family owns The Durst Organization, which has developed about a dozen Manhattan skyscrapers, including the iconic One World Trade Center, which it co-owns with the Port Authority.

Also testifying Thursday was Kathie’s brother, Jim McCormack, who stared daggers at Durst from the witness stand after testifying in vivid detail about how Durst physically abused her at a family Christmas party.

McCormack also did everything but openly accuse Durst of killing his sister, the youngest of four siblings, on the day she disappeared.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that she died Jan. 31, 1982,” McCormack said while glaring at Durst.

Earlier in his testimony, McCormack recalled a “Christmas gathering at my mom’s house” during which Kathie was enjoying an after-dinner glass of red wine in the living room when Durst “started the process of going home” and got “kind of, like, impatient” because Kathie wanted to continue chatting with relatives.

Durst stormed out but “came back very quickly” and “grabbed Kathie by the top of the head,” McCormack said.

“The way it happened was so spontaneous and unexpected . . . I was literally in shock,” he said.

https://nypost.com/2020/03/12/robert-dursts-missing-wife-testifies-through-mentor-at-his-trial/



From The NY Post, March 12, 2020

Defense suggests Robert Durst’s father was behind Kathie Durst disappearance
By Rebecca Rosenberg and Bruce Golding

A defense lawyer for Robert Durst on Thursday pointed to a bombshell, potential new suspect in the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife — his late father, real-estate magnate Seymour Durst.

During cross-examination of a prosecution witness at Durst’s Los Angeles murder trial, defense lawyer David Chesnoff asked whether Kathie McCormack Durst ever said expressed fear “that Seymour Durst was going to kill her.”

She was wary of the family a little bit, yes,” Dr. Marion Watlington answered.

Chensnoff then rephrased his question, saying, “‘She was worried that the father was going to kill her.’ Do you remember saying that?”

“Yes, I do. Yes,” Watlington answered.

It was unclear when and to whom Watlington made the remark.

Judge Mark Windham instructed the jury before and after Watlington’s testimony that it wasn’t evidence Seymour actually killed Kathie.

Watlington, a former professor at Western Connecticut State University, said she befriended Kathie while Kathie was a nursing student there, and later mentored her when Kathie attended the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Watlington, who now lives in Bermuda, also described a phone conversation during which Kathie told her of being badly beaten by Durst and said she feared he might kill her.

“She said, ‘Should anything happen to me, you make sure you don’t let the bastard get away with it,'” Watlington testified.

Durst is standing trial in the execution-style slaying of his best friend, Susan Berman, who prosecutors say was killed in her Benedict Canyon home in 2000 to prevent her from cooperating with a renewed investigation into Kathie’s disappearance, in which Durst has never been charged.

Seymour Durst, who died in 1995 at age 81, was president of the Durst Organization, which was founded by his father, Joseph, in 1927.

Seymour was instrumental in the re-development of Midtown West, owning or holding options on about 10 acres of land there between around 1965 and 1975, according to his obituary in the New York Times.

Seymour was also obsessed with the national debt and in 1989 established the landmark, electronic billboard in Midtown Manhattan that tracks its growth in real time.

The “National Debt Clock” was initially installed on the northwest corner of a Durst Organization-owned building at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street, but now hangs in a passageway between 43rd and 44th streets near Bryant Park.

The Durst Organization didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

https://nypost.com/2020/03/12/defen...father-was-behind-kathie-durst-disappearance/
 
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Ken H

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From CNN, March 15, 2020

Robert Durst murder case may be among LA jury trials suspended because of coronavirus concerns
By Paul Vercammen and Hollie Silverman

A temporary suspension of all jury trials in Los Angeles County will go into effect March 16 in response to the spread of coronavirus, according to a source and an internal police memo obtained by CNN.

Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson Josh Rubenstein confirmed the contents of the memo.

"Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, there will be a suspension of all jury trials, both those currently in progress, as well as those pending commencement, through March 30th. This notification applies to jury trials only," the memo reads.

The hiatus would include the murder trial of multi-millionaire Robert Durst, pending a final approval from the judge presiding over the his case.

In a statement, Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile said that he does not have the authority to close the courts in the event of a pandemic but can make adjustments to lessen the flow of people in the courthouse.

Officials will re-examine the suspension decision before March 30, according to a police memo obtained by CNN.

Durst is accused of killing his best friend to stop her from incriminating him in the 1982 disappearance of his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst. The 76-year-old defendant was the subject of the HBO mini-series "The Jinx."

He was arrested and charged in March 2015 in the death of Susan Berman, who was found dead in her Beverly Hills home two days before Christmas in 2000.

He has pleaded not guilty.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/15/us/california-jury-trials-suspended/index.html
 

Ken H

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Just like always, the Durst story keeps developing. Amazing.

From The NY Post

Lawyer for Kathie Durst’s family sues Durst Organization for defamation
By Priscilla DeGregory and Rebecca Rosenberg

March 23, 2020

A lawyer says oddball real estate scion Robert Durst’s family defamed him when they suggested he was only repping Durst’s accusers to “make a buck.”

Attorney Robert Abrams filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the 76-year-old Durst Organization heir and other members of the Durst clan — whom the suit referred to as the “crime family” — on behalf of Kathie Durst’s sister, Carol Bamonte, last March.

The case claimed that Durst’s magnate dad, Seymour Durst, warned his son that Kathie planned to expose illegal business dealings in the family company — and that Robert should “take care of this problem,” the suit alleged. Later, Seymour and other family members allegedly helped Robert cover up the crime, the lawsuit claimed.

At the time Durst family spokesman Jordan Barowitz told reporters in a statement, “The accusations are fiction, and this is a lawyer’s attempt to make a buck.”

Abrams fired back in a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed late Friday that Barowitz’s statement “was a malicious and baseless attempt to professionally and personally vilify Plaintiff and distract public attention from … the Durst Defendants’ individual and collective failure to cooperate with the police investigation into Kathie’s murder and/or to assist Robert Durst cover-up his crime.”

A judge in August tossed Bamonte’s suit, claiming it was time-barred. Abrams has since filed an appeal, which is still pending.

Charles Moerdler, a lawyer for Douglas Durst, Jonathan Durst, the Durst Organization and Barowitz — who are all named in the suit — said in a statement, “We got [Abrams’] last case dismissed, and we will get this one thrown out as well.”

Robert Durst is on trial in Los Angeles for the alleged 2000 murder of his best friend Susan Berman. The trial is on hold until April 6 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Prosecutors allege in that case that Robert shot Berman in the back of the head to stop her from coming forward with knowledge about his alleged involvement in Kathie’s 1982 disappearance.

https://nypost.com/2020/03/23/lawye...amily-sues-durst-organization-for-defamation/
 

Ken H

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From The Wrap

Robert Durst’s Murder Trial Postponed Again Until May

By Beatrice Verhoeven , March 27, 2020

Previously, the trial was rescheduled to April 6

Robert Durst’s murder trial has been postponed again: Now, it is to pick back up on May 26, according to a spokesperson for the Superior Court of California.

Earlier this month, the trial was postponed to April 6 due to the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement came a day after the Los Angeles Superior Court announced that criminal and civil trials will be delayed for at least 30 days amid concerns about the spread of the virus among the court system. Judges were encouraged to shift towards conducting proceedings by telephone to decrease the number of people in courthouses.

Durst’s murder trial began on March 5. Durst, the subject of the 2015 HBO docuseries “The Jinx,” is charged with murdering his close friend Susan Berman on or about Dec. 23, 2000. Her body was discovered in her Benedict Canyon home on Christmas Eve.

https://www.thewrap.com/robert-dursts-murder-trial-postponed-again-until-may/
 

Ken H

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From Daily Breeze .com

Robert Durst’s trial, frozen by pandemic, will move to Inglewood

New York real estate scion's case will resume at Inglewood courthouse – tentatively, in July

By City News Service
May 22, 2020

New York real estate scion Robert Durst’s murder trial — on hold for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic — is being moved to the Inglewood courthouse, a few miles away from the courthouse where jurors initially began hearing the case, a court spokeswoman said.

Jurors are being instructed to plan on returning to court July 27, but that depends on how Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Windham rules at a hearing set for June 23 on the defense’s motion for a mistrial in the case, according to court spokeswoman Mary Hearn.

In their court filing, Durst’s attorneys contend that a lengthy delay caused by the pandemic has “made it impossible” for Durst to get a fair trial. They wrote that there has been a “prejudicial mid-trial delay” and it is “unrealistic” given the length of the break in the trial to expect jurors to remember the evidence they heard about Susan Berman’s December 2000 shooting death at her home in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles.

The jury had been hearing the case in a courtroom at the Airport courthouse, near Los Angeles International Airport, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced court officials to close the county’s courthouses to all but time-sensitive, essential matters in March.

Moving the trial from the courtroom where it was being heard to a larger one at the Inglewood courthouse will better enable the court to implement social-distancing protocols, according to Hearn.

Prosecutors in Durst’s trial have asked the judge to allow some witnesses to testify through a two-way video conferencing system such as Zoom or Skype to “avoid potential contagion or spread of contagion during air travel” in light of the global pandemic.

“It is our position that given the advanced age of nearly all of the out-of-state witnesses in the case, the directives from the local and federal authorities that such individuals avoid any air travel unless absolutely necessary, as well as for the health and welfare of the jurors, court staff, attorneys, spectators, etc., that the only prudent step is to allow for the contemporaneous two-way video testimony from these older out-of-state witnesses,” prosecutors wrote in their motion.

In a separate motion, prosecutors asked that jurors be allowed to hear the videotaped testimony of the government’s star witness, Nathan “Nick” Chavin, and three other people who live outside of California.

In their court papers, prosecutors wrote that the four are all over 65 years old and are “at higher risk of severe illness or death due to COVID-19” and asked the judge to find that they are unavailable to travel to Southern California to appear before the jury in Durst’s trial.

In their court filing, Durst’s attorneys wrote that “convening a new trial when it is safe to do so” may result in the prosecution’s witnesses being able to travel to Los Angeles to testify in court.

“More specifically, the People’s repeated suggestion that the court resume trial via Zoom video conferencing should be rejected as violative of defendant’s Constitutional rights and utterly impractical,” the defense attorneys wrote in their motion.

Prosecutors allege that Durst killed Berman after she told him she was going to talk to investigators looking into the still-unsolved 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathie.

Durst was acquitted of murder in Texas after testifying that he killed his neighbor, Morris Black, in self-defense in September 2001. Los Angeles County prosecutors alleged that Durst was in Galveston, Texas, while posing as a mute woman after authorities launched a new investigation into what had happened to Kathie Durst.

In his opening statement in Durst’s Los Angeles murder trial, the defendant’s lead attorney told jurors that Durst panicked after finding the woman’s body in her home while coming to visit her for the holidays. Durst wrote an anonymous “cadaver note” that was subsequently mailed to Beverly Hills police so her body would be found, attorney Dick DeGuerin said, noting that Durst would testify in his own defense during the trial.

Durst was profiled in a six-part HBO television series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” in which the defendant was later recorded saying “There it is, you’re caught” and “killed them all, of course.”

Durst has been behind bars since March 14, 2015, when he was taken into custody in a New Orleans hotel room hours before the airing of the final episode of the HBO series, which examined Kathie’s disappearance and the killings of Berman and Black.

Durst has been long estranged from his real estate-rich family, which is known for ownership of a series of New York City skyscrapers — including an investment in the World Trade Center. He split with the family when his younger brother was placed in charge of the family business, leading to a drawn-out legal battle.

According to various media reports, Durst ultimately reached a settlement under which the family paid him $60 million to $65 million.


 

Ken H

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Prosecutors oppose mistrial in Robert Durst murder case

By ANDREW DALTON, Associated Press
June 2, 2020

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles prosecutors are opposing Robert Durst's push for a mistrial, saying Tuesday that the wealthy real estate heir is using the coronavirus pandemic to further delay and distract from the case accusing him of killing his best friend.

After just two days of testimony, the 77-year-old Durst's long-awaited trial was brought to a halt in March because of court closures tied to the virus. His lawyers argued in April that he cannot get a fair trial with the monthslong delay because jurors may not be able to accurately recall the evidence already presented.

In their motion, prosecutors say the Durst's move is "simply his latest effort to restart a trial for tactical and strategic considerations independent of the pandemic."

It argues that Durst's team failed to show that the delay will bring irreparable damage to his defense, which the California Supreme Court has said is necessary to declare a mistrial.

Prosecutors say jurors, who were selected for their ability to serve on a long and complicated trial without excessive hardship, will be capable of resuming their duties.

The motion concedes that while the long break is "'unprecedented' in the annals of jurisprudence, so is the COVID-19 pandemic which caused it."

Superior Court Judge Mark Windham is scheduled to consider the mistrial motion June 23.

The trial, which was being held in a tightly packed courtroom in LA, is tentatively scheduled to resume July 27 at a roomier courthouse in the nearby city of Inglewood to allow for greater social distancing.

Durst, scion of one of New York's wealthiest real estate dynasties, is charged with killing his best friend, Susan Berman, in her home in Beverly Hills in December 2000.

Prosecutors argued in opening statements that Durst shot Berman because she knew Durst had killed his wife, who disappeared in 1982.

Durst has never been charged in his wife's killing and has denied having any role in either death.


 

Ken H

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Sources say the motion for mistrial will probably be denied and the trial will resume on July 27th. Of course a resumption hinges on what happens with COVID-19.
 

Ken H

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Judge denies mistrial motion in Robert Durst case

By Paul Vercammen, CNN, June 23, 2020

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied a motion for a mistrial Tuesday in the case of Robert Durst, the subject of HBO's "The Jinx" who is accused of murdering his confidante Susan Berman.

Durst's trial was suspended on March 16 after only a few days of witness testimony because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Mark Windham, wearing a black face mask to match his black robe, pointed out the defense, asked for the adjournment in March and said, "The motion for a mistrial is denied."

The trial will resume July 27 in an Inglewood courtroom refurbished to accommodate social distancing requirements.

In a broadcast of the proceedings, Durst lawyer David Chesnoff appeared remotely, and could be heard pleading, "the defendant is not asking for a do-over your honor, just a plain and fresh start."

Chesnoff argued a new panel should be picked citing concerns over the jury accurately recalling prior testimony, jurors being exposed to outside influences during the trial break and coronavirus health concerns for lawyers, the judge, and jurors. "No amount of precautions can stop a disease without a cure," he later added.

Prosecutor John Lewin, who was in court, replied that the defense's motion "is a do over" and that a "wealthy" Durst and his team will repeatedly file for mistrials. "When the pandemic is over, guaranteed we'll get more mistrial motions because they want to start from scratch," Lewin said.

Durst, 77, is confined to a cell in the Twin Towers jail medical unit according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Photos released last summer by the sheriff's department show magazine pages, advertisements and photographs taped to the wall of his cell. There are stacks of books and magazines, with titles ranging from "War and Peace" to The New Yorker. The unit protects Durst from contact with other inmates and defense attorney Dick DeGuerin says Durst left the cell to go to the hospital at least twice since the recess to address "bowel problems."

Durst's clipboard full of medical procedures includes removal of part of his esophagus as well as a stent placed in his head to drain fluid from his brain. He also had his cervical spine fused.

He is accused of shooting his close friend, Susan Berman, in the head at her Beverly Hills home on December 23, 2000. He has pleaded not guilty, and he has repeatedly denied killing his best friend. Berman had been scheduled to speak with police hours after she was killed about the 1982 disappearance of Durst's wife. Berman's body was found one day after she was fatally shot.

Attorneys have said the trial could last four months and the frail defendant will take the witness stand for at least two weeks. The trial will center on largely circumstantial evidence, including Durst's infamous muttering on the HBO documentary "The Jinx" that he had "killed them all." Jurors are also expected to hear potentially incriminating statements he made during a three-hour interview with Lewin after his arrest in New Orleans.

There is little physical evidence in Berman's nearly 20-year-old unsolved death. There are no eyewitnesses and no murder weapon. One key piece of evidence is the so-called "cadaver" note, a cryptic letter sent to police with Berman's address and the word "cadaver" in caps that led detectives to her body. In "The Jinx," Durst said the letter could have been sent only by Berman's killer. Defense lawyers previously denied Durst wrote the note, and they tried to exclude from trial handwriting evidence about it. But in a court filing late last year, attorneys for the real estate 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," Durst's attorney DeGuerin said at the time.

In 2018, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled admissible statements Berman made about allegedly helping Durst build an alibi for the death of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, according to prosecutors.

Durst has long said he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance in 1982. She was legally declared dead in 2017. Her body has not been found and no one has been charged in that case.

Berman's death is not the first in which Durst has faced trial. In 2003, Durst told police he killed and dismembered a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, two years earlier. He said he shot the man and cut him up in a panic. Prosecutors said he wanted to steal the man's identity and escape the investigation of his wife's disappearance. Durst testified the killing was in self-defense, that he panicked and decided to cut up Morris Black's body and throw away the pieces. He was acquitted.


 
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The Drifter

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Good. This criminal needs to answer for his horrible crimes - though he may still get off.

I'm not surprised that he got off for the crime he committed in TX; he's got money & a great lawyer. So, unfortunately - in this case, anything is possible.
 
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