Convicted murderer Robert Durst posed Wednesday for a new prison mugshot. The image was taken less than three months after the 78-year-old real estate heir was convicted by a California jury of murdering his friend Susan Berman in an execution-style shooting at her Los Angeles County home in December 2000.
Durst was not in the courtroom on Sept. 17 when the guilty verdict was read due to concerns about possible COVID-19 exposure. He was sentenced Oct. 14 to life in prison.
At sentencing, a judge shot down at least 15 defense claims of legal error.
“There is overwhelming evidence of guilt,” the judge said while rejecting the complaints from Durst’s legal team about the way the trial had proceeded.
Just days after the sentencing hearing, Dick DeGuerin, one of Durst’s defense attorneys, said his client had “was having difficulty breathing and he was having difficulty communicating” due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.
“I can confirm that we were notified that Mr. Durst has tested positive for Covid,” the defense attorney wrote in an email to Law&Crime the Saturday following the sentencing hearing. “Also, I was very concerned about his condition on Thursday in court. He had difficulty breathing and speaking and looked worse than I’ve ever seen him. His condition has steadily deteriorated during the trial, as our medical consultant predicted. I’m also concerned for anyone who came in contact with him Thursday, particularly the defense team and court personnel.”
DeGuerin told attorney and host Michel Bryant on the Law&Crime Network the day after the sentencing proceeding that Durst was in seriously declining health and would likely not live for very long.
Despite the dire warnings about Durst’s health, authorities in Westchester County, N.Y. secured a grand jury indictment on Nov. 1 which alleges Durst killed his wife Kathleen “Kathie” McCormack Durst, 29, in late January 1982. That case remains in its infancy as Durst remains incarcerated in California.
During blockbuster testimony at his California criminal trial, Durst admitted he lied for two decades about the so-called “cadaver” note that led Beverly Hills police officers to Berman’s body.
For years, Durst insisted only the true killer could have penned the note. After failing to call a handwriting expert’s analysis into question, Durst told jurors he was actually in Berman’s home that fateful day in Dec. 23, 2000 — and mailed the short message, notably misspelling Beverly as “Beverley.”
The note got its name because it only contained the word “cadaver” and the address where authorities found Berman’s remains.
“Did you lie about it for years?” Dick DeGuerin asked.
“Yes,” Durst answered.
“Why?” the lawyer pressed.
“Because it is a difficult thing to believe,” Durst said, referring to his claim that he wrote it but was not the killer. “I mean, I have difficulty believing it myself.”
Durst did not merely tell a different story for years. He told producers of the HBO documentary The Jinx that only the real killer could have written the note and that this person took a “big risk” by doing so.
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