Robert Durst is set to face trial for the murder of his friend Susan Berman, who was found shot to death in her Los Angeles home just before Christmas in 2000.
Durst, the son of a New York City real estate tycoon and a primary person of interest in his wife’s unsolved disappearance, was not charged with Berman’s murder until 2015, after HBO had aired a documentary series about his life and his connection to three murders — one of them presumed. Robert’s wife Kathie Durst disappeared without a trace in 1982, and is presumed dead, though authorities do not appear to have any strong leads about where or how she died.
The murder trial is set to begin on September 3 in Los Angeles, according to ABC News. Durst was arrested for Berman’s murder while the HBO docuseries “The Jinx” was airing for the first time; the day after his arrest at a New Orleans hotel, HBO aired the series finale of “The Jinx,” in which Durst can be heard saying “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course” over a hot mic.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, prosecutors in the case argue that Durst fatally shot Berman, a longtime close friend, because she had information that implicated him in his wife’s disappearance and presumed murder. It is not known if any new physical evidence prompted the arrest, and Durst’s defense lawyers have reportedly argued that Durst’s arrest for murdering Berman was driven more by the attention surrounding the HBO series than the emergence of any compelling physical evidence.
Durst has been tried for murder before: In 2003, he went on trial for the murder of Morris Black, his neighbor in Galveston, Texas, where he reportedly fled in 2000 amid reports that authorities were set to re-open an investigation into Kathie Durst’s disappearance. A jury acquitted Durst of murder on self-defense grounds, despite his admission that he dismembered and disposed of the victim’s body.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, a judge ruled that prosecutors can submit evidence connected to the Galveston murder at the Susan Berman murder trial.
[Feature image: Susan Berman and Robert Durst, HBO]