Durst was charged with first-degree murder of Berman at his Beverly Hills home in 2000, hours before he was set to speak to investigators about the mysterious disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack. , which was last seen in 1982.
McCormack Durst was pronounced legally dead in 2017. His body has not been found and no one has been charged in the case.
The jurors also agreed that the crime met “special circumstances” in California law, which would allow Durst a life sentence without parole for murdering a witness to a crime and using a firearm in murder.
The death penalty is banned in California. Durst’s sentencing hearing will take place on October 18.
“The jury’s ruling demonstrates how our legal system can work to hold people accountable regardless of their property and status in life,” District Attorney George Gascon said. “I want to commend our prosecution team and investigators for their diligent work to finally bring justice to those who have been waiting for more than 20 years.”
Durst, 78, took a stand in his defense during the sensational trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He denied killing Burman, saying he found him on his bedroom floor with a fatal gunshot wound to the back of the head.
Durst’s testimony lasted three weeks, with much of the cross-examination turning into a controversial feud with Chief Prosecutor John Levine.
Prosecutors allege that Durst shot Berman in the head. He said that Durst told Berman that he had killed Kathleen, and that he helped her cover her tracks.
On the stand, Durst denies murdering his first wife and, later, Berman. But under cross-examination, Durst testified that he would have found himself wrong if he had killed them. Levine prompted Durst to admit that he misjudged himself five times during the trial, which resumed in May after a 14-month delay due to the pandemic.
There was little physical evidence of Burman’s unsolved death. There were no people who witnessed the shooting and there were no murder weapons.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Habib Balian pointed to one of the state’s strongest witnesses, Nick Chavin, a longtime friend of both Durst and Berman, who testified to the defendants, referring to Berman as telling him. Was, “It was him or me.” “I had no choice.”
“Those nine words sum up the whole case,” Balian told the jurors.
Another important piece of evidence was the so-called “cadaver” note, a secret letter sent to police with Berman’s address and the word “cadaver” in caps that led detectives to his body.
The filmmakers confronted Durst with another letter he had once mailed to Berman, which had the nearly identical handwriting of the “cadaver” note. In both, Beverly Hills was misspelled as “Beverly”.
In a court filing late last year, lawyers for the real estate mogul reversed course and acknowledged that Durst wrote the anonymous note. “It doesn’t change the fact that Bob Durst didn’t kill Susan Berman,” defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said at the time.
Durst’s second murder trial is another chapter in the unusual life that reached a mass audience through “The Jinx” miniseries.
He was arrested in New Orleans the night before the final episode of the miniseries aired. In his final moments, Durst walked into the bathroom, apparently not realizing that his mic was still on, and made a series of comments that became infamous.
“There it is. You’re caught,” he said in a series of seemingly unrelated sentences. “He was right. I was wrong.”
“What did I do? Definitely killed them all,” he said, which was widely interpreted as a confession by the audience. But tapes of audio recordings in court showed that the quotes were added and edited in a different order and context, The New York Times has reported. Durst has stated that he was “high on meth” during the taping of the documentary.
Durst’s health has worsened since the documentary. He is thin and humpbacked and speaks in a whispering tone. Durst has bladder cancer and has had several surgeries, including inserting a shunt into his head to reduce pressure on his brain.
Durst was not in court to hear the verdict recently because of his exposure to someone with Covid-19. Durst’s lawyer said he remains in quarantine after one of his drivers tested positive for the coronavirus.
The judge ordered that the jurors’ personally identifiable information be sealed for confidentiality and security. It is up to the jurors whether they choose to discuss a deliberation or a decision.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Granthshala’s Alexandra Meeks, Ray Sanchez, Stella Chan and Steve Almasi contributed to this report.
Credit : www.cnn.com