Robert Durst jailed for life without parole for murder of friend Susan Berman

, Robert Durst jailed for life without parole for murder of friend Susan Berman, The Evepost BBC News
, Robert Durst jailed for life without parole for murder of friend Susan Berman, The Evepost BBC News

Robert Durst has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of his friend Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home.

The 78-year-old real estate heir was found guilty last month of shooting Ms Berman, 55, in the back of the head in December 2000.

A jury also found him guilty of the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness, which in California carried the mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors told his trial that Durst killed Ms Berman because she knew too much about the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst.

Ms Durst’s body has never been found after she disappeared in New York in 1982 and he has never been charged in connection with her death.

The court was told that Ms Berman had provided a false alibi for Durst in1982 and that he feared she would reveal that to authorities.

Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who presided over the trial, sentenced Durst in Los Angeles County on Thursday.

Durst, who appeared at his sentencing in prison uniform, testified in his own defence for 15 days, with prosecutors telling the jury that he had lied or changed his story multiple times.

The was held six years after the actor appeared on the HBO documentary series The Jinx, where he appeared to confess to multiple killings.

During filming the show, Mr Durst was caught on a live microphone muttering to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Andrew Jarecki, the filmmaker behind The Jinx, was present in court for Durst’s sentencing.

He was arrested in Louisiana the day before the show’s final episode was set to air, and had with him cash, a gun and a map of Cuba.

He denied killing Berman but has admitted he discovered her body and failed to report it as he felt nobody would believe he had not killed her.

, Robert Durst jailed for life without parole for murder of friend Susan Berman, The Evepost BBC News

Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian told the trial that Durst had told a “fantastical tale” to deflect from his guilt in the case.

“This was an Olympic year. If there was an event for running from the truth, he’d be on the top of the podium,” he said.

During the trial jurors were shown a lates mask worn by Durst when police officers arrested him.

Mr Durst is only charged with killing Berman, but prosecutors allege he also murdered his wife and a Texas neighbour while hiding from law enforcement in 2001.

Mr Durst has admitted to killing his neighbour and dismembering the body but argued self-defence and was acquitted.

After the conviction, Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, called Durst a “narcissistic psychopath” who “killed his wife and … had to keep killing to cover it up.”

And he added: “He’s 78 years old. He’s been walking around for a long time. He had a lot more of a life, you know, Kathie didn’t make 30. On balance, considering what he’s done, he got a lot more of a life than he was entitled to.”

At the sentencing hearing lawyers for Mr Durst filed a motion for a new trial, which the judge denied.

Mr Durst’s lawyers said that they intended to appeal but Durst himself rejected an opportunity to speak to the court.

“SB was an extraordinary human being, I wish I could have known her,” said Judge Windham as he passed sentence.

“I feel I got to know her vicariously far too late and in terrible circumstances. Killing her was a terrible loss to our community and this is a horrific crime it was a witness killing and the circumstances of that crime was the denial of justice to the McCormack family.

“The killing of sb closed any change of vindication. That circumstance is a special circumstance and in this case was a tremendously aggravated and awful, disturbing crime.”