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US tycoon Robert Durst sentenced to life for killing best friend

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Robert Durst is a distinct member of one of New York’s most powerful real estate dynasties. (file)

Los Angeles:

The head of the US real estate sector, Robert Durst, was sentenced on Thursday to life and no parole for the murder of his best friend.

Durst, a multi-millionaire who was the subject of an explosive HBO documentary called “The Jinx”, has always denied allegations that he shot that friend, Susan Berman, in the back of the head at her Beverly Hills home in 2000. was given. From talking to the police about the disappearance of his wife two decades ago.

But last month, a jury in Los Angeles took just eight hours to find the 78-year-old guilty of the execution-style murder of Berman.

“This crime was the murder of a witness,” Judge Mark Windham said before reading out the sentence of life imprisonment. “That circumstance … greatly increased this terrible, disturbing crime.”

Windham rejected the defense’s request for a new trial, saying “there is, in fact, substantial evidence of the crime.”

The court also heard from Berman’s son, Sereb Kaufman, who said he wondered what his life would have been like if Durst had not killed his mother.

“Every plan completely swayed,” said Kaufman, crying. “You killed me too, the person I was.”

During Thursday’s court session, Durst remained in a wheelchair without stopping.

Prosecutors say he killed crime writer Berman to prevent him from being questioned by New York police over the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen.

Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, had served as Durst’s spokesperson when he became a suspect in his wife’s disappearance.

‘Kill them all’

An estranged member of one of New York’s wealthiest and most powerful real estate dynasties, Durst was never charged with his wife’s affair.

He was arrested in a New Orleans hotel room in connection with the murder of Berman in March 2015, hours before the final episode aired in the HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”.

In its surprise finale, Durst is heard murmuring to himself, “There it is, you got caught” and “definitely killed them all” – apparently unaware that the recording of that episode. During this, a microphone he was wearing remained on. While he used the restroom during a break in the session.

In Thursday’s proceedings, Burman’s relatives urged him to say where his wife’s body was.

The documentary also examined the death of Durst’s neighbor, Morris Black, in Texas in 2001, which was found dismembered.

Durst admitted to the piecemeal but claimed the killing was self-defense. He was acquitted.

He repeatedly denied any involvement in Burman’s death, but admitted that he wrote an anonymous letter to police informing him that his body was lying in his Beverly Hills home.

Last month, prosecutor John Levine told the jury that there was a “mountain of evidence” that Durst had killed all three people whose deaths he was linked to.

He said a friend of Durst had testified that the real estate magnate had told him about Berman, “It was him or me. I had no choice.”

Levine told the jury, “He (wife) has never been held accountable for Cathy’s domestic abuse. She was never held responsible for her death. Over the past 20 years, he has gotten away with murdering Susan.” went.”

“For the past 20 years, he has been escaping responsibility from Morris Black. Durst is not to be confused. He is a three-time killer who has managed to evade accountability until this very moment.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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