Real estate heir Robert Durst in in hospital with COVID-19 and on a ventilator just two days after he was sentenced in court to life in prison for murdering a friend in 2000, his lawyer has said.
Durst, 78, who appeared sickly during his sentencing on Thursday, ‘looked worse than I’ve ever seen him,’ lawyer Dick DeGuerin told the Los Angeles Times.
The real estate heir was admitted Friday night to LAC+USC Medical Center, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s inmate locator.
Durst’s sentencing for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman was a long-delayed punishment for a man who mostly evaded the law for more than 39 years.
A multimillionaire whose grandfather founded one of New York City’s premier real estate companies, Durst was long a suspect but never charged in the disappearance of his wife Kathleen McCormack, who went missing in New York in 1982.
Real estate heir (pictured in August at his trial) Durst is the lead suspect in Kathie’s 1982 disappearance
Durst’s sentencing for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman was long-delayed punishment for a man who mostly evaded the law for more than 39 years
The real estate heir was admitted Friday night to LAC+USC Medical Center, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s inmate locator.
Durst was long a suspect but never charged in the disappearance of his wife Kathleen McCormack, who went missing in New York in 1982
For the first-degree murder of Berman with intention of killing a witness, 78-year-old Durst was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at the Inglewood Courthouse in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The court heard how Berman’s death left a permanent hole in the lives of family members who remembered her Thursday for her adventurousness, creativity and deep love and loyalty.
‘It has been a daily, soul-consuming and crushing experience,’ Sareb Kaufman, who considered Berman his mother after his father dated her, said in a powerful victim impact statement. ‘I’ve lost everything many times over because of him.’
The killing had been a mystery that haunted family and friends for 15 years before Durst was arrested in 2015 following his unwise decision to participate in a documentary that unearthed new evidence and caught him in a stunning confession.
For the first-degree murder of Berman with intention of killing a witness, Durst was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole
Durst, who has numerous medical issues and sat in a wheelchair wearing brown jail scrubs, said nothing.
His eyes were wide open, and he had a catatonic stare when he entered the courtroom and barely looked over at Kaufman and three of Berman’s cousins when they spoke.
‘As Susan Berman’s family have described for us, Susan Berman was an extraordinary human. I personally wish I could have known her,’ Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who sentenced Durst, told the court.
‘This is indeed a horrific crime.’ Durst’s sentencing came as New York prosecutors prepare to bring charges against him over Kathie’s disappearance almost four decades ago.
Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty for Durst, who evaded justice for more than two decades for Berman’s brutal slaying and is also long suspected of murdering Kathie and his former neighbor Morris Black.
‘You didn’t just murder Kathy, or Morris, or Susan, you also murdered me,’ Kaufman said. ‘You murdered the person I was. All his dreams are gone. He no longer exists.’
Since the murder 21 years ago, Kaufman said there’s not been a single day when Berman has not consumed nearly every of his thoughts.
He said his life has not been the same.
‘All I can say is at 47, I’m still in the same type of job, never advanced,’ he told the court.
‘No wife, no children, and almost no family because of what Robert has done… Since my mother’s murder, it has been a daily soul consuming and crushing experience.’
Kaufman’s life was derailed in his mid-20s when Berman was killed and he found himself responsible for taking care of her estate.
He said he spent months packing up her house, returning to the murder scene where her matted hair was still on the floor amid the bloody paw prints of her dogs.
He spoke bitterly of the experience and having to store her belongings in his tiny apartment, but didn’t mention it was there that crucial piece of evidence – the letter confirming a match with the ‘cadaver note’ was found.
Sareb Kaufman, who considered Berman his mother, said Durst destroyed his life
Durst, sitting in a wheelchair, was flanked by lawyers during the sentencing
The victim’s relative Grace Berman, speaking through tears, said she wished Durst no ill will.
‘As a matter of fact, I would like Bobby to live many, many, years; to be on record for the longest living predator, ever,’ she told the judge.
‘And with each breath… from right now on, when you breathe in, you will hear Susan. When you exhale, you will hear Berman, and the ringing in your ears may never stop.’
Deni Marcus, who grew up with Berman and considered her to be a sister, told the court of how she robbed of an ‘absolutely extraordinary, unforgettable, brilliant person whose life was savagely taken from her.’
‘She was always so supportive and wonderful,’ she said. ‘She would make my grey days a lot less grey.’
She said she does not hate Durst.
‘Hate was never on my wheelhouse or hers,’ she told the court. ‘Hate cannot enter my life, no matter what. She always made sure that I knew that hate serves no purpose.’
Grace Berman said she hopes Durst becomes the longest living predator on record
Deni Marcus, who considered Berman a sister, said she can’t bring herself to hate Durst
Durst’s defense team filed a motion requesting a new trial last month citing the delay in his trial – caused in part by the pandemic – and insufficient evidence.
The request was denied Thursday, with the judge rejecting arguments there was insufficient evidence or that he ruled incorrectly on 15 issues.
Durst testified he didn’t kill either woman, but he said on cross-examination that he would lie if he had. ‘You said the court erred so many times it made me feel self-conscious,’ Windham joked.
Windham said there was overwhelming evidence and prosecutors proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at least five ways, including devastating revelations during Durst’s cross-examination and an admission he made in the climax of the six-part documentary, ‘The Jinx: The Life and Crimes of Robert Durst.’
During the trial, prosecutors said Durst had also killed Kathie – despite him never facing charges and the trial being Berman’s murder.
They used Kathie’s alleged murder as a motive for Durst to kill his longtime friend and confidante.
The jury also upheld the special circumstances allegation that Berman was killed because of her knowledge about Kathie’s disappearance.
Durst was accused of shooting Berman point-blank in the back of her head after New York authorities reopened the investigation into Kathie’s disappearance in 2000 and wanted to speak to her about the case.
In September, Prosecutor Habib Balian showed jurors a latex mask that Durst was found with when he was arrested at a New Orleans hotel in March 2015
Prosecutors said Berman knew too much about what happened to Kathie and so she was silenced.
Berman is thought to have helped Durst cover his tracks after his wife’s disappearance, posing as Kathie to phone her medical school to say she was sick on the morning after she was last seen alive.
This led investigators to believe Durst’s version of events that he saw her board a train to New York City on the night of January 31 1982 after they spent the weekend at their home in South Salem, Westchester County.
He claimed he spoke to his wife when she arrived at their Manhattan penthouse and had cocktails with his neighbor later that night.
Investigators later found no evidence of Kathie ever boarding the train or arriving into New York and Durst later confessed to lying about their phone call and his drinks with a neighbor.
Superior Court Judge Mark Windham sentenced Durst, now 78, at the Inglewood Courthouse
Real estate heir Durst is the lead suspect in Kathie’s 1982 disappearance
Kathie’s body was never found.
During the sentencing, Berman’s cousin implored Durst to disclose the location of his wife’s body.
‘He should let us know where Kathie’s body is so her family can get some closure,’ he told the court.
Durst testified over 15 days during his trial, nine of them under cross-examination.
He claimed he discovered Berman’s body when he went to visit her but did not call police for fear he would be accused of her murder.
He also finally confessed to writing a letter sent to the LAPD alerting them to Berman’s dead body in her Benedict Canyon home on Christmas Eve 2000.
Kathie and Robert Durst pictured together. She vanished in 1982 and has not been seen since
The letter told cops there was a ‘cadaver’ at the address and Beverly Hills was spelled incorrectly.
Durst denied for years that it was him who sent the letter before finally admitting at his trial – but claiming it was because he discovered his friend already murdered and didn’t want to leave her body undiscovered.
Durst was also charged – and acquitted in 2005 – of the 2001 murder of Morris Black (above) who he admitted dismembering
Prosecutors also argued Durst was adept in the art of deception, showing jurors a latex mask he was found with when he was arrested at a New Orleans hotel in March 2015.
As the Durst Organization heir, his entanglement in the disappearance of his wife, death and dismemberment of his neighbor, and execution of his best friend has hit headlines for years.
But he evaded prosecution for years.
Prosecutors credited the documentary The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst for his eventual downfall.
After being caught in a lie about a note he penned directing police to Berman’s lifeless body, Durst went into a bathroom and muttered to himself on a live microphone, ‘You’re caught.’ He later said, ‘Killed them all, of course.’
Filmmakers confronted him with a note police received that had Berman’s address and only the word ‘cadaver.’ It was addressed in block letters and misspelled Beverly Hills as ‘Beverley.’
Durst said only the killer could have written it, and it wasn’t him. He was then shown a letter he once wrote Berman in the same handwriting and Beverly misspelled the same way.
This comparison was presented at Durst’s trial.
Durst testified that he regretted participating in the documentary.
The trial began in March 2020 and was adjourned for 14 months as the coronavirus pandemic swept the U.S. and courts were closed. It resumed in May with the jury that reached its verdict September 17.
Seven of the jurors returned to witness the sentencing.
Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster and a writer, was Durst’s longtime confidante from college days.
She told friends and Durst she was preparing to speak with police about the reinvestigation of his wife’s disappearance shortly before she was killed.
Kathie Durst has never been found. Robert Durst has never been charged with a crime related to her disappearance.
But following his conviction in Berman’s death, which relied on evidence that he killed his wife, a New York prosecutor is prepared now to seek charges against him in her death, a person familiar with the matter – but who was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation and did so on condition of anonymity – told The Associated Press.
Durst’s family had hoped to present statements to the court Thursday about their loss, but prosecutors denied the request, according to emails sent to their lawyer.
Attorney Robert Abrams, who showed up at the hearing. said the McCormack family was disappointed, and he was outraged.
‘The family is not going to go travel 3,000 miles to be a prop in some Hollywood production and sit there and not be able to make their victim impact statements,’ Abrams said. ‘This is not some movie where it’s gross spectacle. This is their lives, and they’ve suffered for 40 years.’
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, Kaufman and others pleaded with Durst now to tell the McCormack family where she was buried.
‘I hope in your final days and hours you will … give the McCormacks what little they are asking for: to find Kathie, to lay her to rest appropriately, finally and at long last,’ Kaufman said. ‘This is the most important question that still haunts us.’
Durst is the grandson of Joseph Durst, who founded the Durst Organization, one of Manhattan’s largest commercial real estate firms, and is said to have a $100 million fortune.
Davy Berman, whose family took in his his cousin after her father died, said he had gone to see her grave before the sentencing.
‘I visited her and told her she could rest easy,’ he said as his voice cracked. ‘That justice has been done.’
Jill Biden’s first husband ‘to be star grand jury witness’ over Kathie Durst’s disappearance after he revealed he slept with her 10 days before she vanished in 1982
Jill Biden’s ex-husband Bill Stevenson has been approached to be a potential star witness over the 1982 disappearance of Robert Durst’s wife Kathie, according to report.
Sources close to the investigation told News 12 that New York investigators have reached out to Stevenson for questioning following his bombshell revelation that he had been having an affair with Kathie and Durst found out about it just ten days before she went missing.
Stevenson, who was married to Jill between 1970 and 1975 and claims she cheated on him with Joe Biden, claimed he slept with Kathie at her and Durst’s New York City apartment back in January 1982.
The morning after, Durst showed up at the apartment, threatening Kathie and slamming a wad of rolled up cash in her face, he claimed.
Just 10 days later, Kathie vanished without a trace.
Investigators are said to have been none the wiser until Stevenson spoke out to News 12 about the incident earlier this year – despite Stevenson saying he reported it to police when Kathie disappeared.
His version of events could provide prosecutors with a potential motive for Durst killing his wife.
Jill Biden’s ex-husband Bill Stevenson (pictured) has been approached to be a potential star witness over the 1982 disappearance of Robert Durst’s wife Kathie, according to report
Now, he is expected to be called as a star witness to testify in front of a grand jury in Westchester as District Attorney Mimi Rocah pursues charges against convicted murderer Durst almost four decades on from when his wife was last seen alive.
Several other witnesses have also been called to testify in the proceedings which are due to begin no later than Monday at the Westchester County Courthouse.
This means it is likely that the grand jury panel will be selected by the end of this week. While these other witnesses have not been identified, they are expected to include several of Kathie’s friends and relatives.
It emerged earlier this month that Rocah was pursuing charges against Durst, now 78, over Kathie’s disappearance after he was convicted in September of murdering his best friend Susan Berman in a gangland-execution style murder in her Los Angeles home in 2000.
Stevenson told News 12 earlier this year that he and Kathie had been friends since they were children and he and Jill had hosted her and Durst at their home in Delaware in 1974.
While Jill and Kathie ‘hit it off’ during the visit, Stevenson said he noticed Durst behaving oddly.
Kathie and Robert Durst together. Sources said that New York investigators have reached out to Stevenson for questioning following his bombshell revelation that he had been having an affair with Kathie and that Durst found out about it just ten days before she went missing
Stevenson said he and Jill hosted the Dursts at their home in Delaware (above) one time in 1974
‘I remember him talking to himself in my garage. To me it was like, ‘oh my god’,’ he recalled.
Stevenson said his friendship with Kathie only became intimate in January 1982 – when he was divorced from Jill but Kathie was still married to Durst.
He said Kathie began confiding in him that she was scared of her husband and he visited her five times between 1981 and 1982.
‘She said I’m having a real problem with Robert and I’m scared to death,’ he said.
‘She said he was being violent with her. At that point, she couldn’t trust anybody around her that knew Robert.’
It was on one trip to visit Kathie at her Manhattan penthouse apartment that things became romantic, he said.
‘She was in this silk nightie. Nothing was said. She grabbed my hand, led me back to the bedroom,’ he said.
‘We closed the door and life changed for both of us. Totally unexpected. Beautiful night. No regrets.’
Stevenson recalled Durst turning up at the apartment the following morning and discovering him there – with Kathie telling her husband she was leaving him,
‘The next thing I realize we hear pounding on the door, it’s 7.30 in the morning, she runs out of the bedroom, runs back in and says it’d bob,’ he said.
‘I jumped up and ran out, he screams something and he had a wad of cash and he hit her right in the face with it. He started yelling: ‘Kathleen, this isn’t going to happen.’
‘She starts yelling: ‘I’m moving to Delaware! I’m done! We’re done!’ I’m like sitting there, I’m in shock. People have to understand, this guy is a monster. I saw it in his eyes.’
When Kathie went missing days later, Stevenson said he went straight to the police but no one followed up on his report.
Stevenson claimed he slept with Kathie (pictured) at her NYC apartment back in January 1982. The morning after, Durst showed up at the apartment, threatening Kathie and slamming a wad of rolled up cash in her face, he claimed. Just 10 days later, Kathie vanished
‘I got in my car, went to the 19th precinct – literally within 24 hours – and said: ‘Nuh uh. He killed her.’
‘[The cop] wrote a couple things down, and said ‘we’ll get back to you.’ I never heard a word back from them,’ he said.
Stevenson said he believes Durst killed her after discovering their affair and described himself as the ‘missing link in this case.’
He said he feels like he ‘let her down’ and often wonders ‘what could I have done differently’ – but insists he has no regrets about their affair.
‘I don’t feel guilty about that. He was abusing her and she wanted out. And I feel like if something happened wonderful at the end of her life, I hope this was it,’ he said.
‘I’m sorry. I just hope that you know she had the same thoughts at the end there.’
The First Lady has never spoken publicly about the case or mentioned meeting the Dursts in the past.