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Robert Durst: How A Killer’s Death Stops His Victims From Finding Closure

In the final months of Robert Durst’s life, it seemed as if the walls were finally approaching the disgraced multimillionaire and real estate heir. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an old friend in September, and soon after, New York officials charged him with the murder of his missing first wife.

But his death at a California hospital on Monday turned things upside down against the 78-year-old. The murder trial over the death of his ex-wife Kathleen McCormack Durst comes to a halt and, thanks to a legal tech nitty-gritty, the murder conviction for the murder of his friend Susan Berman will soon be overturned.

Authorities believe Durst was behind three murders in three states over four decades, as highlighted in the 2015 HBO documentary series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.

But despite a jury finding Durst guilty last fall of the murder of Berman, a friend and confidant, California law requires that if a defendant dies while a case is on appeal, such as the situation with Durst’s case, the conviction is dropped, said Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor not involved in the case.

“As the law is now, Durst’s conviction will be dropped and it’s like it never happened,” Rahmani said. “This is such a unique case. It is truly unprecedented that someone could be involved in three different murders in three states and thus escape justice.”

James McCormack, left, brother of Kathie Durst, listens as attorney Robert Abrams speaks at a press conference on Nov. 9. Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

Meanwhile, the case against Durst over the death of his wife can no longer proceed, because officials cannot prosecute a dead man. That means the charges against Durst should be dismissed, Rahmani said.

“After 40 years of seeking justice for her death, I know how shocking this news must be for Kathleen Durst’s family,” Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah said in a statement. “We had hoped that they would have the opportunity to see Mr. Durst finally charged with Kathleen’s murder because we know that all families never stop longing for closure, justice and accountability.”

Durst was convicted in September 2020 for the murder of Berman. Prosecutors say he shot her at close range in her home to prevent her from telling police what she knew about McCormack’s disappearance. At the trial, Berman, a journalist, was described as an “extraordinary person” and a loyal friend who cared deeply about others.

“It’s unfortunate if someone loses their life, but it’s important to keep in mind that Bob Durst lived to be 78 years old, decades longer than two of his victims,” ​​said John Lewin, LA’s deputy district attorney who killed Durst. continued. for the murder of Berman, in a statement. “To the very end he was hostile, unrepentant and ruthless. My thoughts and condolences go out to his victims.”

At the time of his death, New York prosecutors were preparing to request that Durst be transferred to the state to face charges for the death of his ex-wife McCormack, who disappeared in 1982 and whose body was never found. was found.

The DA’s office plans to share more information about the McCormack case at a press conference in the coming days, Rocah said.

Until last year, Durst, who denied McCormack’s murder, had never been charged in connection with her disappearance, despite multiple attempts to close the case over the decades. Authorities reopened the case in 1999 and searched a lake and the couple’s home. McCormack’s family is… critical of civil servants not to act before.

A man stands behind a woman with her hand on her shoulder for support.
Deni Marcus, a cousin of Susan Berman, stands next to her son, Tommy Marcus, as she makes a statement at the sentencing of Robert Durst on October 14. Photo: Myung J Chun/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock

A lawyer for the McCormack family has said the investigation into the case is still ongoing.

“Although Robert Durst has passed away, the ongoing investigation into those who helped him cover up her murder continues. We will provide a further update on January 31, 2022, the 40th anniversary of Kathie’s murder. In the meantime, please pray for Kathie and his other victims,” ​​said Robert Abrams.

At the time of her disappearance, McCormack was a medical student preparing to become a pediatrician. Her family says Durst was violent and that McCormack had previously been treated in a hospital for injuries he caused.

Authorities tried for years to put Durst behind bars for his role in crimes officials say can be traced back to the disappearance and suspected murder of McCormack.

Roca reopened the case in May, shortly after she took office as a prosecutor. But the Westchester County District Attorney’s office has long been criticized for taking so long to file charges against Durst for McCormack’s murder, Rahmani added.

“No one was willing to prosecute and try the case. Unfortunately, due to this long delay, Kathie Durst and her family will never receive the criminal treatment she deserves,” Rahmani said.

Putting the multimillionaire in the spotlight, The Jinx penned down McCormack’s disappearance, the murder of Berman, and the death of Durst’s neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001 in Galveston, Texas, where Durst hid while disguised as a deaf-mute woman. . He was arrested for the murder of Berman on the eve of the broadcast of the series’ final episode, in which Durst appeared to confess to the murders, saying to himself, “What the hell have I done? … Killed them all, of course.’

Durst avoided a murder conviction for Black’s death, but spent three years in prison on related charges, including evidence tampered with before dismembering Black’s body.