'This Is the Trial' You Want to Be On: Durst Judge

Jury selection began Wednesday in Robert Durst's murder trial
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 19, 2020 3:45 PM CST
'This Is the Trial' You Want to Be On: Durst Judge
In this Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, file photo, real estate heir Robert Durst appears in a Los Angeles Superior Court Airport Branch for a pre-trial motions hearing in Los Angeles.   (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool, File)

For someone who says he doesn’t like talking with people, Robert Durst has shown a propensity to open up to strangers. It has not done him any favors. The New York real estate heir’s lengthy interviews with filmmakers led to a damning documentary on his suspected role in three killings. Before the final episode aired, he was arrested on charges of killing his best friend to silence her from telling authorities what she knew about the 1982 death of his wife. While behind bars, Durst spent nearly three hours talking with the prosecutor who had been on his tail for two years. All of that led to a Los Angeles courtroom where jury selection began Wednesday for Durst’s trial on murder charges in the slaying of his friend, the AP reports. “If you’re going to be a juror, this is a fascinating case," Superior Court Judge Mark Windham told prospective jurors, who have been screened to make sure they can serve for up to five months.

"If you’re going to have one trial where you’re going to be a juror, this is the trial. These are the best lawyers I’ve ever seen," he continued. "This case is very, very interesting. ... You’re never going to have an experience like this." Durst, 76, has pleaded not guilty to charges he shot Susan Berman in the back of the head in December 2000. Prosecutors contend Durst silenced Berman to stop her from telling investigators what she knew about the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen, in New York. They plan to tell them Durst also killed a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, in 2001 while he eluded investigators in his wife’s death. He was never charged in his wife's presumed killing and was acquitted of killing and dismembering Morris Black in Texas, claiming he shot Black in self-defense. With little physical evidence, prosecutors will be leaning heavily on Durst’s own words he allegedly said to friends and in recorded interviews he gave to the makers of the documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, as well as to Deputy District Attorney John Lewin.

(More Robert Durst stories.)

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