Durst is facing day of reckoning for murder of his best friend

Robert Durst's bitterly fought murder trial lasted more than two years. His sentencing could be relatively brief and may not include the fireworks between the defense and lead prosecutor.

Durst is facing day of reckoning for murder of his best friend

For the first-degree murder conviction of Susan Berman, his best friend and eccentric New York realty heir, the New Yorker faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

"Now that the jury found whodunnit," Laurie Levenson, Loyola Law School professor, said. "I don't think there is much more (for the prosecutor) to be said."

Durst, now 78, was found guilty last month by Los Angeles Superior Court for shooting Berman in the back of her head at her Los Angeles home, just before Christmas 2000.

The trial started in March 2020, but was halted for 14 months due to the outbreak of coronavirus virus. Courts were also closed. The trial resumed in May, with the jury reaching its Sept. 17 verdict.

Durst was longtime confidante of Berman, the Las Vegas mobster's daughter. He was about to say that Berman provided a fake alibi after his wife disappeared in New York in 1982.

Kathie Durst was never found. Robert Durst was never charged with any crime in connection to Kathie Durst's disappearance.

A person familiar with the matter said that after Berman's conviction, which was based on evidence that he had killed his wife, a New York prosecution is now ready to bring charges against him in Berman’s death.

Durst, who testified in the LA trial, denied that he had killed Berman or his wife, but he stated that he would lie if he had.

Kathie McCormack Durst's family wanted to make statements before the court on Thursday regarding their loss. However, prosecutors rejected the request according to emails sent by their lawyer.

Robert Abrams, Attorney, stated that the McCormack Family was disappointed and he was outraged. He stated that family members wouldn't attend the sentencing.

Abrams stated that the family was not going to travel 3,000 miles to become a prop in a Hollywood production. "This isn't a movie about a gross spectacle. This is their life, and they have suffered for 40 years."

A spokesperson for the office of the district attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Levenson stated that it was doubtful whether Kathie Durst was a Los Angeles victim because Robert Durst wasn’t charged with Kathie Durst’s murder. An appeal would be possible if her siblings were allowed to speak at the sentencing hearings.

Defense lawyers will argue Thursday for a new trial, claiming that there wasn't enough evidence to support the case and listing 15 errors made by the judge.

Levenson stated that the motion was primarily to preserve appealable issues and is likely to fail. However, some of their claims may be able to attract attention from a higher court.

According to the defense, Judge Mark Windham should have declared the mistrial after the jury was sent home. The case was then adjourned. They claimed that the delay was unheard of.

Other issues involve admission of evidence. For example, prosecutors can present testimony that Durst murdered a neighbor in Galveston Texas in 2001. They also claim that Durst sliced up the body of his victim and then tossed it out to sea. Durst was cleared of murder after he testified that Morris Black pulled out a gun and killed him in a struggle for it.

They also objected against testimony and exhibits showing that Durst had $40,000 cash, $40,000 in fake identification and a loaded gun in his New Orleans hotel room when he was arrested.

They also objected that jurors be shown a feature film based upon Durst's personal life and six-part documentary "The Jinx" ("The Life and Crimes Of Robert Durst")

Levenson stated that prosecutors might be less strict in their sentence presentation to limit appellate issues, especially when the prison term has been set.

A reporter asked John Lewin, Deputy District Attorney, what he had to tell Durst after the conviction.

Lewin was aggressive and often fought with Dick DeGuerin, his defense lawyer, over the six-year period from arrest to conviction. At first, he said nothing to the man he had been following for many years.

He called Durst "a narcissistic psychopath", who had "killed his wife, and... had no choice but to continue killing to cover it all up."

He's 78 years of age. Lewin stated that he's been around for a while. He had a lot more life than Kathie did. He got a lot more life, when you consider what he did.

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