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Jury begins deliberations in L.A. murder trial of Robert Durst

WorldSep 14, 2021 04:51PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Robert Durst in his wheelchair looks at people in the courtroom as he appears in an Inglewood courtroom with his attorneys for closing arguments in his murder trial at the Inglewood Courthouse in California, U.S., September 8, 2021. Al Sieb/P

(Reuters) - Jurors in the California murder trial of real estate heir Robert Durst began deliberating on Tuesday over whether the multimillionaire killed his best friend in 2000 in an attempt to cover up the disappearance of his wife in 1982.

The Los Angeles County jury must attempt to reach a unanimous verdict after prosecutors presented ample circumstantial evidence pointing toward Durst, 78 and ailing, but no physical evidence linking him to the murder of Susan Berman, 55, who was shot in the back of the head inside her Beverly Hills home.

The trial lasted 58 days over a year and a half, including a one-year delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It came six years after Durst's apparent confession to multiple killings in the HBO television documentary series "The Jinx." In the film, Durst, who was acquitted of murdering his Texas neighbor in 2001, was caught on a hot microphone in the bathroom saying to himself, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."

Although only charged in California with killing Berman, Los Angeles County prosecutors allege he killed his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst in New York in 1982, then decided to kill Berman 18 years later because she had told others that she helped Durst cover up the crime. Durst has never been charged in his wife's disappearance.

Prosecutors also say he killed his neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas, because Black discovered his identity at a time when Durst was hiding from the law, sometimes disguising himself as a mute woman.

A Galveston jury acquitted Durst, who had testified Black pulled a gun on him and was shot accidentally when the two men wrestled over the firearm in Durst's apartment. Durst also admitted to dismembering Black's body and dumping it in Galveston Bay.

Durst, who testified in self defense in California as he did in Texas, admitted to discovering Berman's body.

In both cases of having a dead body at his feet, Durst said he tried to call the 911 emergency number at first but later decided against it, fearing nobody would believe he was not guilty.

Jury begins deliberations in L.A. murder trial of Robert Durst
 

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