ROBERT Durst was convicted of the deaths of three people, including his best friend Susan Berman, when he died in prison earlier this year.
After his death, a California court posthumously overturned his conviction for Berman’s murder due to what some officials called “technicality”.
The 20/20 Special Report, released Friday, March 18, includes interviews with Nick Chavin, a friend of Berman and Durst, and Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney John Levine, the lead prosecutor at the trial.
ABC said the episode would also include “the first TV interview” with Mark Smerling, producer and cinematographer of the documentary series Jinx.
When Jinx hit HBO in 2015, viewers were shocked when Durst apparently confessed to his murders live from a microphone.
Special episode 20/20 will air on March 18 at 21:00. Viewers can watch it live on ABC or find it on Hulu the next morning.
EVENTS BEFORE THE DEATH OF SUSAN BERMAN
Kathy Durst disappeared from New York City in 1982, where she lived with her husband Robert, who grew up in the city as the heir to one of the richest and most powerful real estate dynasties in the country.
Although Katy’s relatives claim that Durst killed her and murdered her, Katy’s body was never found and he was never charged with a crime.
Durst was the last person to see his first wife, Cathy, a pediatrician trainee, alive.
But earlier, on the evening of January 31, 1982, she was at a dinner party with friends when Durst called her and suddenly had to leave.
Nobody ever saw her again. She was 38 years old.
Years later, Durst was convicted of dismembering another man, Morris Black; however, he was not convicted of murder, citing self-defense.
Durst went into hiding at the time of Black’s death and even disguised himself as a woman when police found Black’s body parts floating in the waters of Galveston Bay, Texas.
Instead, after pleading guilty in 2004, Durst was sentenced to five years for cutting up Black’s body and two counts of bail evasion, but was counted towards time served and released on parole in 2005.
WHY SUZAN BERMAN WAS A TARGET
It was believed that Berman was targeted due to her knowledge of the events surrounding Katie Durst’s death.
Berman was the daughter of Davy Berman, a Jewish-American organized crime figure who worked for notorious gangster Meyer Lanksy and the Genovese crime family in Minneapolis and Las Vegas.
In 1981, she wrote East Street, in which she described her life as a gangster girl, and was paid $350,000 for film rights, although the film was never made.
She married Christopher Margiles in 1984 and was accompanied by longtime friend Robert Durst.
Berman met Durst while attending UCLA in the late 1960s, and they started off as friends.
Berman acted as an informal spokesperson during the media storm when Cathy disappeared.
But some have since argued that Berman was more than just a friend, acting as an accomplice in Cathy’s disappearance and apparent murder, providing Durst’s public alibi.
Berman’s murder came just days before she was scheduled to meet with investigators who recently reopened the Katie disappearance case.
But, as with Katie, there was not enough evidence to blame Durst for Berman’s death, despite the fact that he was in the same condition as her at the time of her death and sent her thousands of dollars shortly before. how she was killed.
HORRIBLE SCENE DETAILS
In August 2021, Durst said in a courtroom that in December 2000 he entered Susan Berman’s house with a key she had mailed to him and found him bleeding on the floor.
He said, “I did a double take. I saw Susan lying on the ground.
“I yelled ‘Susan! several times, then I quickly ran to the room where she was. Her eyes were closed.
Durst said he checked Berman’s pulse and lifted her off the ground before running to another room to call 911, only to find that the phone line was down.
He then drove off and tried to contact authorities from a pay phone on Sunset Boulevard, about two miles from home.
When the operator answered, Durst said he had begun to have reservations.
He said, “I decided I didn’t want to give them my name.
“I knew that my voice was very recognizable even without a name. »
He said he instead decided to write down what became the body note, a piece of paper with Berman’s address and the word “body” that was mailed to the Beverly Hills Police Department.
Under interrogation, Durst admitted that he lied about writing the note for many years, including during an interview for the HBO documentary The Curse.
“It’s very hard to believe,” Durst said.
“I mean, I myself find it hard to believe that I would have been writing this letter if I hadn’t killed Susan Berman. »
Durst maintained his innocence
In the fall of 2021, Durst was convicted of Berman’s murder despite Durst’s repeated claims of innocence.
Did you kill Susan Berman? Durst’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, asked the frail real estate heir in the courtroom.
“No,” Durst replied.
“Do you know who did this? DeGuerin then asked Durst.
“No, I don’t,” Durst replied.
During the trial, Durst claimed he knew Berman was cooperating with the new police investigation into Cathy’s disappearance, but she did not blackmail him.
He testified: “Someone must have had a reason, a motive, whatever, to kill Susan Berman. I had no reason to kill Susan Berman.
In February 2022, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Katherine Solorzano announced that all Durst proceedings would be “permanently dismissed”.
Under California law, the conviction was dropped because a higher court was unable to uphold Durst’s conviction until his death on January 10.
However, Assistant District Attorney John Levin said that Durst “killed three people” and “was held accountable for his heinous crimes.”
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