LOS ANGELES – A black-and-white photograph displayed on a courtroom wall Monday supplied a stark reminder of how a lot had modified in Robert Durst’s life over almost 4 a long time.
The photograph courting to at the very least the early 1980s confirmed the New York actual property inheritor’s finest buddy, Susan Berman, beaming, flanked by a bearded Durst sporting a smirk and his spouse, Kathleen, with an electrical smile.
Right this moment, Berman is lengthy useless and Kathleen Durst has been lacking for greater than 35 years and is presumed deceased. Durst, an outdated, frail man with a shaved head, wore a scowl in a courtroom the place he’s accused of killing each ladies.
Prosecutors started presenting proof in Los Angeles Superior Courtroom to hyperlink Durst to the killings within the first day of a listening to to find out if he shall be tried on a homicide cost within the point-blank taking pictures of Berman.
Prosecutors say Durst killed his school buddy, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, as a result of he believed she was going to inform police what she knew about Kathleen Durst’s dying.
Robert Durst, 75, an eccentric multimillionaire, has by no means been charged with against the law associated to his spouse’s 1982 disappearance in New York. He has pleaded not responsible to Berman’s 2000 dying at her Los Angeles home.
The primary day of the listening to revealed little that was not beforehand disclosed in an HBO documentary collection, courtroom filings and different proceedings, but it surely made the connection between Berman’s dying and the thriller round Kathleen Durst’s disappearance, which prosecutors wish to present as the inspiration for the motive for Berman’s slaying.
Karen Minutello, supervisor of the Manhattan constructing the place the Dursts lived in a penthouse condominium, stated Kathleen Durst referred to as her a few week earlier than her disappearance and requested to lease her personal unit as a result of she did not wish to reside along with her husband anymore.
“She was hesitant, she did not simply blurt out why. Then she did say she wanted to get away from him,” Minutello stated. “She was afraid of him.”
Days after Kathleen Durst vanished, Minutello stated she was alerted to a damaged trash compactor that she discovered jammed with the lacking lady’s possessions, together with notebooks along with her identify, attire, make-up and a hair dryer. She made notes in regards to the discovering as a result of it appeared important.
“Who does that?” Minutello stated. “Whose cherished one is lacking and so they throw out their stuff?”
Minutello additionally revealed that doormen on the constructing stated tenants suspected Robert Durst of stealing their bicycles sometimes from a communal storage room. She stated it occurred about 5 instances, however no tenant ever filed a grievance.
After the disappearance, Berman served as Robert Durst’s unofficial spokeswoman. However prosecutors and witnesses in a collection of earlier hearings stated she did rather more.
Berman advised buddies over time that Durst acknowledged killing his spouse and stated she helped him cowl his tracks. Prosecutors are hoping to make use of lots of these rumour statements at trial, which protection attorneys have vigorously challenged.
Berman advised one buddy who testified at an earlier listening to that if something occurred to her, Durst could be the perpetrator.
Decide Mark Windham threw each side a curve when he stated he was inclined to permit the testimony as a result of he did not assume it was rumour. He stated they could possibly be characterised as statements Susan Berman would have made as a witness if she had been alive.
After a number of minutes of arguments by protection and prosecution, Windham postpone a ruling till the listening to resumes Tuesday.
Durst, wearing a light-weight blue sport coat and khakis, gave the impression to be intently listening at instances by means of headphones that enhanced the amount, whereas dozing at different moments.
He perked up throughout testimony from the previous Los Angeles medical examiner-coroner, who reviewed the post-mortem in 2015, to view one other photograph of Berman.
It was a picture from Berman’s post-mortem. Her proper eye was blackened, and her tongue was between her lips.
A subsequent photograph confirmed what killed her: a single jagged bullet wound at the back of her head was uncovered the place a patch of her jet-black hair had been shaved.
Dr. Mark Fajardo, now chief forensic pathologist in Riverside County, stated Berman was shot by a gun inside an inch of her head. The proof indicated the shooter was behind her, Fajardo stated.
The bullet was present in her mind and the shot would have rendered her unconscious instantly, he stated.