LOS ANGELES — A prosecutor began his marathon opening statement Wednesday in the murder trial of infamous New York City real-estate scion Robert Durst, who’s charged with assassinating a friend almost 20 years ago to cover up the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathie Durst.
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin warned the jury that his presentation — which could last three days — will be lengthy because “there is a lot of information I need to convey.”
He then began detailing the discovery of Susan Berman’s body inside her Beverly Hills home on Dec. 24, 2000, saying, “She was executed, shot to the back of the head at very close range.”
“Evidence will show the motive was not robbery or burglary,” he said.
“Susan knew her killer and she freely and voluntarily admitted this person into her house.”
Lewin is expected to tie the slaying of Berman, daughter of a Las Vegas mobster and a friend of Durst’s since college, to a renewed investigation into Kathie Durst’s disappearance and presumed murder, as well as a 2001 killing and dismemberment in Galveston, Texas.
The victim in that case, Morris Black, lived in a rooming house where authorities say Durst was hiding out, disguised at times as a mute woman.
Durst, 76, was acquitted of murdering Black by claiming self-defense, but was busted in Berman’s slaying just ahead of the finale of the six-part HBO documentary series “The Jinx,” which climaxed with Durst caught on a hot mic, muttering to himself “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst, who maintains his innocence in all three homicides and claims his remarks were edited to make him look guilty, was already seated at the defense table, wearing a navy blazer and hearing aids in his ears, when the courtroom opened this morning and the gallery filled up with about 70 reporters and spectators.
The eldest of the late real-estate tycoon Seymour Durst’s four children, he appeared frail and struggled to stand as Superior Court Judge Mark Windham entered and took the bench.
Durst has a large, bulging scar on his head from the treatment of hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, and has also undergone surgery for esophageal cancer and had his cervical spine fused, his lawyers have said.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Durst could have faced the death penalty based on allegations he intentionally killed Berman while “lying in wait,” but prosecutors opted against seeking capital punishment in 2016.
His trial is expected to last about five months.
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