Prosecutor Uses Footage from 'The Jinx' in Opening Statement for Robert Durst's Murder Trial
A Los Angeles prosecutor used footage from the HBO docuseries The Jinx during opening statements in the long-awaited murder trial of eccentric New York City millionaire Robert Durst.
Durst, 76, is accused of the execution-style murder of his long-time friend Susan Berman, a struggling writer and daughter of a Las Vegas mob boss.
Berman was found dead in her Los Angeles home in December of 2000.
As Durst entered the courtroom, he stared at the packed venue and then walked over to the defense table and fist-bumped defense attorney Dick DeGuerin before sitting down.
Prosecutors have alleged that Durst killed Berman because she knew too much about the 1982 disappearance of his first wife Kathleen Durst, whose remains have never been found.
Durst’s Jinx footage, as well as a previous interview with prosecutors, were used throughout opening statements Wednesday.
“Much of the damaging evidence is going to come from Durst himself,” Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said during opening statements. “He will admit to things.”
Much of the footage revolved around Durst’s comments about his wife Kathie (Kathleen), who he described as “pretty” when he first set eyes on her. Durst was nine years older than her.
“I had oodles of education and she had zilch,” he said.
About their relationship, he said, “I was always, always controlling.”
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The opening statements also centered on the murder of Berman, who was found dead after a neighbor called 911.
Lewin said when police arrived they determined there was no forced entry and the back door of her small home was wide open. There were no signs of ransacking or a struggle. Officers found Berman’s purse with ID and cash sitting on the kitchen counter.
“The evidence is going to show that Susan knew her killer and she freely and voluntarily admitted this person into her house,” Lewin said.
Berman, said Lewin, was a paranoid person who would have never opened her door to a stranger.
“She turned her back to the killer,” he said. “She didn’t know what was going to happen…Thankfully she didn’t see it coming.”
More than 100 witnesses, including actress/comedian Laraine Newman, are scheduled to testify.
Berman’s killing, the unsolved disappearance of Kathleen and the chain of macabre events — including the decapitation killing of Durst’s elderly neighbor in Texas, Morris Black — are expected to take center stage during Durst’s trial, which is expected to last five months.
Durst has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in connection with Berman’s death.
“The bottom line is that he didn’t kill Susan Berman,” DeGuerin previously told PEOPLE. “And he doesn’t know who did.”
Berman’s body was found in her home in the Benedict Canyon neighborhood on Dec. 23, 2000, shortly after New York investigators reopened Kathleen’s case.
Kathleen, a 29-year-old medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was last seen alive on January 31, 1982, when she appeared at a friend’s dinner party, looking upset. Durst later filed a missing persons report, telling police they’d had a fight later that night at their South Salem, New York, cottage and that he’d driven her to the station to catch a train to New York City.
She was never seen again. Prosecutors in Los Angeles and police in New York believe Durst killed her.
The day after Kathleen disappeared, a woman claiming to be her called the dean of the medical school and said she was too sick to attend the first day of her pediatric clerkship. Prosecutors allege the woman who placed the call was actually Berman.
Berman, who penned her memoir, Easy Street, about her life with her mobster father, met Durst at UCLA in 1965, and was his unofficial spokesperson after Kathleen’s disappearance.
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