For murder of girlfriend: Millionaire thirst gets life sentence

In 1982 the wife of the US real estate heir Robert Durst disappears. Almost 20 years later, he kills two people around him. A trial in 2003 resulted in an acquittal. But now the millionaire has to go to jail after all. A court sentenced him to life imprisonment for the murder of a friend.

American millionaire and real estate heir Robert Durst has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the murder of a friend over 20 years ago. A judge in Los Angeles announced the sentence for the 78-year-old. Thirst, who suffered from bladder cancer, among other things, appeared sitting in a wheelchair in the courthouse.

On September 17, Durst was found guilty by a jury of having shot and killed his friend Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home over the Christmas period of 2000. At that time, she was supposed to testify before the police in the investigation into the still unexplained disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathleen Durst in 1982. Kathleen was never found – and no charges related to her disappearance were ever brought.

Following the verdict, Kathleen’s family demanded that Durst be prosecuted for her disappearance as well. The process began in March 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic brought life to a standstill in the United States. He was resumed in May. The 14-month delay has been described by the defense as the longest adjournment with the same jury in United States history, according to the New York Times.

The first trial ends with an acquittal

Thirst has also been in court earlier. In 2003 he confessed to having killed and dismembered a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, two years earlier. The killing took place in self-defense during a dispute over a pistol, he panicked and decided to dismember the body. Thirst was acquitted. The public prosecutor’s office accused Durst of trying to steal the man’s identity in order to avoid the investigation into his wife’s disappearance.

In the 2015 HBO documentary “The Jinx,” Durst appeared to admit the murders. He went to the bathroom while still wearing a microphone on. That recorded a series of comments that looked like a confession. “You got caught! What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course,” he said. However, according to media reports, the transcripts of the sound recordings in court showed that the quotations had been merged and edited to put them in a different order and context.