Real estate scion Robert Durst took the stand in his murder trial Monday, testifying in a Southern California courtroom that he didn’t kill his close friend Susan Berman.
Asked by his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, whether he knew who did, Durst said: “No, I don’t.”
Durst, 78, is accused of killing Berman in 2000. She was found shot to death in her Los Angeles-area home, and prosecutors have alleged that Durst killed her because of what she knew about the 1982 disappearance and death of Durst’s wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst.
Durst, who was never charged in his wife’s disappearance, was arrested in 2001 and charged with killing and dismembering a former landlord and neighbor, Morris Black. He was acquitted in Black’s death in 2005 after he claimed self-defense, although he appeared to confess to the killings in the 2015 HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”
Authorities had already been building a case against him, and he was arrested in connection with Berman’s killing in May 2015, on the eve of the show’s final episode.
In court, Durst — a member of one of New York’s wealthiest real estate families, said to be worth $100 million — was in a wheelchair and appeared frail. He spent several minutes cataloguing medical ailments, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis and kidney disease.
In wide-ranging, sometimes meandering testimony, Durst testified about the death of his mother when he was a child, opening a health food store in Middlebury, Vermont, and meeting Berman — whose father was a well-known mob boss in Las Vegas — in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s.
They became best friends, he said, adding, “We were both rich.”
Kathleen McCormack Durst’s disappearance attracted intense media scrutiny, and Berman defended Robert Durst against allegations that he may have been involved in her death. But prosecutors have alleged that by 2000, Berman had probably changed her mind and was ready to talk to authorities about the disappearance.
Durst’s testimony is set to continue Wednesday in state Superior Court in Inglewood.