The court battle begins. Real estate heir Robert Durst will soon be on trial for the murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman, who was found shot “execution-style” in the back of the head over 20 years ago. The 76-year-old has been accused of killing Berman in December 2000 to cover up his first wife Kathleen Durst’s disappearance. Jury selection started on Wednesday, February 19.
Prosecutors speculate Durst decided to get rid of Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mob boss, because she allegedly knew he had something to do with Kathleen vanishing. His first wife was last spotted upstate New York in 1982, and it’s presumed she is deceased, although her remains have never been found.
Following his 2015 arrest, Durst has pleaded not guilty to a single count of murder for Berman. The former Texas native and writer used to be close, as they first crossed paths while studying at the University of California, Los Angeles, years ago.
Judge Mark Windham has since informed potential jurors this will be a “fascinating case” to witness. “If you’re going to have one trial where you’re going to be a juror, this is the trial,” he said, according to KTLA. “You’re never going to have an experience like this.”
Interestingly, just one day after Kathleen’s disappearance, someone called the dean of Albert Einstein College of Medicine claiming to be her and they explained why she wouldn’t be making the first day of her pediatric clerkship. It’s speculated the woman who made the call was Berman.
Berman’s friend Miriam Barnes actually spoke out during an earlier pre-trial hearing, and claimed Berman reached out to her so they could discuss something she learned about Durst. “I’m going to tell you something, but I need you not to ask me any questions,” Barnes testified, the Los Angeles Times reports. “I did something today.”
Barnes didn’t find out the information, but Berman allegedly stated, “If anything ever happens to me, Bobby did it.”
Berman’s brutal murder and Kathleen’s disappearance were both further explored in HBO’s The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. At one point of the six-part documentary, Durst was recorded while talking to himself and he appeared to say, “There it is. You’re caught. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Prior to this trial, Durst was previously acquitted for the murder of his Texas neighbor, 71-year-old Morris Black. He claimed to have shot Black in self-defense.