LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst, who was convicted last year of killing a friend in her Benedict Canyon home, has died in a California prison at the age of 78.
In a statement provided to CBSLA Monday, Durst's attorney said that he died of "natural causes associated with the litany of medical issues we had repeatedly reported to the court over the last couple of years."
Durst died at San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton.
After a trial which was delayed more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then lasted four months, Durst was convicted in September by a Los Angeles County jury of first-degree murder in the Dec. 23, 2000, shooting death of his longtime friend and confidante Susan Berman in her Benedict Canyon home. In October, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors argued that Durst shot Berman and then his neighbor, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas, nine months later -- in the head because each of them had damaging information against him and feared they would speak to authorities after a re-investigation was launched into the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen "Kathie" Durst, whose body has never been found.
Then, just one week after being sentenced to life in prison, Durst was charged in New York City with the death of Kathie Durst.
Kathie Durst was 29 when she vanished on Jan. 31, 1982. Her body was never found. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017. Robert Durst divorced Kathie Durst in 1990 citing abandonment.
He was not charged in her disappearance until this past October despite several efforts over the years to close the case. Authorities reopened the case in 1999, searching a lake and the couple's home.
Durst had long been estranged from his real estate-rich family, which is known for ownership of a series of New York City skyscrapers including an investment in the World Trade Center. He split with the family when his younger brother was placed in charge of the family business, leading to a drawn-out legal battle and ultimately reached a settlement in which the family reportedly paid him $60 million to $65 million.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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