Gruesome details explained in court as ‘The Jinx’ murder trial rounds 25th day

Posted at 10:09 AM, July 8, 2021 and last updated 1:44 PM, July 8, 2021

By Katie McLaughlin, Court TV

LOS ANGELES — As the trial of Robert Durst enters its 25th day Wednesday, Juror #3 was dismissed for the remainder of the trial after suffering a stroke.

Durst, a real estate heir, is accused of murdering his best friend, Susan Berman.

Durst was prosecuted again after his case became public in a Hollywood film about him and an HBO documentary full of seemingly incriminating evidence.

 

Prosecutors believe Durst’s motive was covering up the murder of his first wife, Kathie. They say Berman provided an alibi for Durst after he killed Kathie in 1982 and that he silenced Berman in December 2000 because she planned to tell police what she knew about Kathie’s disappearance.

Durst, 78, has pleaded not guilty to Berman’s murder.

In addition to his alleged murder of his first wife and Susan Berman, Durst is also believed to have been involved in the killing and dismemberment of his elderly neighbor, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas.

A TV still frame of Robert Durst appears on a screen in the courtroom as Deputy District Attorney John Lewin begins opening statements in trial of Durst, a real estate scion charged with murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. Durst has pleaded not guilty to killing his best friend, Berman, in 2000 at her Los Angeles home. Durst’s murder trial was delayed more than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

Wednesday’s focus in the Los Angeles Superior courtroom was specifically on Durst’s testimony from the Galveston trial, much of which was read back.

>>>WATCH TX v. DURST (2003) NOW ON DEMAND

Under oath back in 2003, Durst described that in November 2000 he decided to escape New York City after a local newspaper ran a cover story about Kathie’s disappearance. Authorities were on the verge of reopening the case.

Durst traveled to Galveston where he made a stop at a local Walmart to purchase cargo pants, a woman’s white blouse and a handbag. By phone, Durst answered an ad for an apartment, telling the landlord he was helping his mute sister-in-law find a place to live. Durst met the landlord disguised as his sister to rent the apartment.

Morris Black lived across the hall.

Around Galveston dressed as a woman, Durst would carry an index card that stated in marker that he was mute, so that he would not have to use his self-described distinct voice. He often walked to the local library so that he could use the internet to read articles about himself.

Robert Durst was convicted of fatally shooting Black in 2001, but was acquitted in a 2003 Texas trial by successfully claiming self-defense. He did serve jail time, however, for chopping up Black’s body and tossing it in Galveston Bay and for skipping out on bail.

Durst’s current case is expected to last about five months total.

Court TV’s Adrienne Zulueta contributed to this report.

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