By Paul Vercammen and Eric Levenson, CNN
Robert Durst, the multimillionaire taxable of the HBO transgression documentary “The Jinx,” had been expected to attest successful his defence Wednesday, his ineligible squad had told CNN. But the tribunal adjourned for the time aft a lengthy cross-examination of representation expert, Elizabeth Loftus. Durst is present expected to attest Thursday.
Durst is charged with the first-degree execution of his adjacent person and confidante, Susan Berman, successful 2000, astatine her Beverly Hills home, hours earlier she was acceptable to speech to investigators astir the mysterious disappearance of his archetypal wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, who was past seen successful 1982.
Durst has agelong denied sidesplitting Berman, and his lawyer has said that helium panicked and ran aft uncovering her body. He has pleaded not guilty.
The proceedings began aboriginal past twelvemonth but was suspended successful March 2020 aft conscionable a fewer days owed to the coronavirus pandemic. It yet resumed this May, and prosecutors rested their lawsuit connected Tuesday aft respective months of testimony.
Durst’s expected grounds is conscionable the latest saga successful an antithetic beingness that reached wide audiences done “The Jinx” miniseries successful 2015.
He was arrested successful New Orleans the nighttime earlier the last occurrence of the show, making the finale must-see TV. And successful its last moments, Durst went into the bathroom, seemingly not realizing his microphone was inactive on, and made a bid of comments that became infamous.
“There it is. You’re caught,” helium said successful a bid of seemingly unrelated sentences. “He was right. I was wrong.”
“What the hellhole did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
The comments came crossed to audiences arsenic a stunning confession. However, transcripts of the audio signaling successful tribunal revealed that the quotes were spliced and edited to beryllium successful a antithetic bid and context, The New York Times has reported.
Durst’s wellness has deteriorated since then, and helium looks and sounds frail successful court. At 78, helium is thin, bent-over and successful a wheelchair and speaks successful a whispery voice.
Earlier this week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham rejected Durst’s lawyers’ latest bid to hold oregon extremity the proceedings due to the fact that of his wellness issues. Durst has bladder cancer and has undergone aggregate surgeries, including the insertion of a shunt successful his caput to relieve unit connected his brain.
“I’m disquieted astir his health,” his longtime lawyer Dick DeGuerin said. “I’m disquieted astir his quality to past and his quality to recognize analyzable questions, some nonstop and cross-examination.”
What to expect from his testimony
Testifying successful one’s ain defence is uncommon for execution defendants, but the maneuver worked for Durst successful a erstwhile execution trial.
In 2003, an animated Durst testified helium had fatally changeable a neighbor, Morris Black, successful self-defense and admitted helium chopped up his assemblage with surgical precision and dumped it successful Galveston Bay. He said helium did truthful successful a panic, portion prosecutors said helium wanted to bargain the man’s individuality and flight the probe of his wife’s disappearance.
The Texas execution proceedings revealed much astir Durst’s often eccentric behavior, including however helium posed arsenic a mute pistillate arsenic helium hid retired successful Galveston.
The assemblage successful Texas accepted Durst’s self-defense assertion, acquitting him of murder.
Durst’s grounds is expected to past respective days, and ineligible analysts caution that helium needs to beryllium cautious with his words.
His “testimony could unfastened the doorway to each types of anterior atrocious behaviour that helium could beryllium questioned about,” said CNN ineligible expert Joey Jackson. “If the assemblage thinks he’s lying, being evasive oregon if he’s unsympathetic, a condemnation is assured.”
The aesculapian issues could besides travel into play.
“There is simply a inactive a flimsy accidental of raising the sympathy of idiosyncratic connected the jury,” said Loyola Law School Professor Stan Goldman.
But Jackson believes Durst needs to beryllium cautious astir however jurors comprehend his aesculapian issues. “If helium testifies and feigns sickness oregon incapacity, the assemblage volition spot close done it,” Jackson quipped.
Also, Judge Windham could inactive hold the proceedings owed to Durst’s mediocre health, Goldman said.
“That’s if the justice changes his caput and determines Durst’s information makes him unfit to attest astatine this clip oregon successful the foreseeable future,” Goldman said.
How we got here
Prosecutors allege that Durst shot Berman successful the head from down to halt her from incriminating him successful the disappearance of this archetypal wife, Kathleen, successful 1982. They accidental Durst confided to Berman that helium had killed Kathleen, and that she helped him screen his tracks.
Durst volition apt beryllium cross-examined by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, who has relentlessly pursued Durst for Berman’s murder.
Lewin and Durst squared disconnected successful a New Orleans jailhouse compartment successful 2015 aft Durst agreed to an interrogation that would past 3 hours, without his lawyers present, making perchance damaging claims and lamenting his galore carnal ailments.
“My beingness expectancy is astir 5 years,” the eccentric millionaire said successful the 2015 interview.
There is small carnal grounds successful Berman’s astir 20-year-old unsolved death. There are nary eyewitnesses and nary execution weapon.
One cardinal portion of grounds is the alleged “cadaver” note, a cryptic missive sent to constabulary with Berman’s code and the connection “cadaver” successful caps that led detectives to her body.
In the HBO documentary “The Jinx,” Durst said the missive could person been sent lone by Berman’s killer. Defense lawyers antecedently denied Durst wrote the note, and they tried to exclude from proceedings handwriting grounds astir it.
But successful a tribunal filing precocious past year, lawyers for the existent property mogul reversed people and acknowledged that Durst penned the anonymous note. “This does not alteration the information that Bob Durst did not termination Susan Berman,” DeGuerin said astatine the time.
Also successful the documentary, filmmakers confronted Durst with different missive helium erstwhile mailed Berman, with astir identical handwriting to the “cadaver” note. In both, Beverly Hills was misspelled arsenic “BEVERLEY.”
Lewin, successful the interrogation with Durst, asked him, “Why would you deliberation the slayer would person near a note?”
“I’m gonna enactment distant from that,” Durst replied.
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CNN’s Augie Martin and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.