In a rare clip from a jailhouse video interview, a prosecutor in Robert Durst’s upcoming trial for the murder of Susan Berman shares his theory of the crime with the suspect.
The video clip, part of a CBS 48 Hours special on Berman’s life and death, comes as attorneys on both sides are preparing for the murder trial, which is expected to begin later this year. The interview took place in March 2015 at a New Orleans jail, where Durst was held on drug and gun charges before being extradited to Los Angeles to face charges of killing Berman.
Durst, an heir to his family’s real estate dynasty, has been accused of shooting Berman in her home in late 2000 — perhaps, some suspect, because Berman knew something about the still-unsolved disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathy in 1982. Durst and Berman, whose family has deep mob ties, were lifelong friends after meeting at UCLA, and Berman remained steadfastly loyal to him even as his legal challenges mounted. Berman was facing financial trouble near the end of her life, and reportedly borrowed money from Durst on multiple occasions. Shorty before Berman’s death, a Westchester County, New York, District Attorney re-opened the case in the Kathy Durst’s disappearance, and was compiling a witness list. Berman would have been at the top.
In the interview with Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewis, who Durst will face in court, the always-eccentric star of HBO’s The Jinx provides curious responses — that can be used as evidence in the murder trial.
Lewis speaks with a presumption that Durst is guilty of the killing Berman, and Durst doesn’t really argue with him.
“I know that when you killed Susan that was not something you wanted to do,” Lewis says.
“I’m going to stay away from killing Susan,” Durst replies.
When Lewis tells Durst that he believes the suspect drove from Northern California to Los Angeles, the suspect finishes his sentence: “And killed Susan and drove back?”
Durst acknowledges that he knows about a note sent to the Beverly Hills Police Department letting them know about a body in Berman’s home (a note that was shown in The Jinx to be written in handwriting uncannily similar to Durst’s).
This is not Durst’s first murder trial. Though he has never been charged for killing his wife, who has never been found, Durst’s attorneys successfully argued a self-defense not guilty plea in the murder of his former neighbor in Galveston, Texas, where Durst lived under an assumed identity for several years. He was set free despite admitting to cutting the victim’s body into pieces.
It’s also not the first time Durst has been recording saying something incriminating: In the final episode of The Jinx, Durst is heard muttering to himself “What did I do? Killed ’em all of course,” when he did not realize his microphone was recording.
Durst later said he was high on meth while filming the HBO documentary series. In November, he pled not guilty to murdering Berman.