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Robert Durst, New York Real Estate Scion, Convicted Of 1st Degree Murder In Death Of Longtime Friend Susan Berman

INGLEWOOD (CBSLA) -  New York real estate scion Robert Durst was convicted Friday of murdering a longtime friend and confidante in her Benedict Canyon home just over two decades ago.

The Help Group's Annual Teddy Ball - Arrivals
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 22: Susan Berman attends The Help Group's Annual Teddy Ball at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 22, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

"We the jury...find the defendant, Robert Durst, guilt of the crime of first-degree murder of Susan Berman," the jury foreman read aloud Friday in an Inglewood courtroom.

Berman was shot in the back of the head just before Christmas Eve 2000, hours before she was to meet with detectives trying to solve the 1982 disappearance of Durst's first wife, Kathie Durst.

"Bob Durst is finally being held accountable for what he's done," Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said. "We knew when there was a verdict, we knew what it was going to be. The issue was with this case, would it be a conviction or would it be, potentially, a hung jury, but the evidence was overwhelming."

It was a starkly different scene from 2003 when prosecutors say Durst got away with murder after a jury cleared him for the killing of his neighbor, Morris Black, another person who allegedly had information about the disappearance of Kathie Durst.

The 78-year-old Durst was not in the courtroom to hear the verdict read Friday because he was being held in isolation after a COVID-19 exposure.

Six years ago, the HBO documentary series "The Jinx" dug into Durst's life, unearthing new evidence in the case and capturing what sounded like Durst confessing to the killing on a hot mic.

Deputy DA Lewin felt like the evidence was on their side.

"All of us worked very hard and we were very gratified by that, that the jury agreed with our presentation of the evidence and our view of what happened," Lewin said.

In a statement after Friday's verdict, the family of Kathie Durst released a statement, saying in part:

"Today, more than ever before, it is clear she was murdered by Robert Durst in Westchester County, New York, on January 31, 1982...Kathie is still waiting for justice."

The jury convicted the once famed New York real estate heir of first-degree murder with special circumstances of lying in wait and for killing a witness.

Durst, who is in poor health, faces life in prison.

The sentencing phase of Durst's trial has been set for Oct. 18.


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