EXCLUSIVE: Robert Durst Prosecution Team - Part 2

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Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys John Lewin, Habib Balian, Ethan Milius, Euguene Miyata, and Rob Britton join the podcast and discuss the prosecution of Robert Durst. In this episode, the prosecutors discuss organizing discovery, preparing clips for cross examination, how they decided who would do opening and closing argument, whether they could prove the case without the cadaver note, changing Durst's catheter bag, what surprised them during Durst's testimony, and who would play John Lewin if they made a movie about this case.

The trial of Susan Berman's murder lasted over 4 months, had over 100 witness, had over 180,000 pages of discovery, and over 1,000 clips from interviews and trial footage that were presented to the jury in an organized and seamless way. Durst was tried and convicted of 1st degree murder on September 17, 2021 for the murder of Susan Berman, and the jury agreed Durst killed her because she was a witness in the disappearance of Kathie Durst who Durst allegedly killed in 1982. Durst was sentenced to life without parole on October 14, 2021.

Facts:

Kathie Durst mysteriously disappears on January 31, 1982. One of the last people to hear from her was the dean of Albert Einstein Medical School, where Kathie allegedly called in sick and said she wasn’t going to be able to attend her rotation. In November 2000, it becomes public that the police reopened the investigation into Kathie Durst’s disappearance. On December 24, 2000, a woman named Susan Berman is found murdered execution style in her home in Los Angeles. Who was Susan Berman? A close friend of Robert Durst and the daughter of a mobster. She was also someone who told others that she in fact placed the call to the dean of the med school and pretended to be Kathie, thus creating an alibi for Robert Durst. The police later receive a note postmarked December 23, 2000, saying there was a “cadaver” at Susan’s address in Beverly Hills, except “Beverly” is misspelled as “Beverley.”

On October 9, 2001, body parts of a person named Morris Black are found floating in Galveston Bay, Texas. Durst is arrested that day but posts bail and skips his hearing, only to be arrested a month later for shoplifting a sandwich. Durst is acquitted of murder on a claim of self-defense, even though Durst admitted to dismembering Morris Black after Black was shot and killed during a struggle with Durst.

A movie called “All Good Things” starring Ryan Gosling is released and is essentially a rendition of the crimes by Durst. After seeing the movie, Durst reaches out to the makers of the film and sings them praise, saying it’s essentially accurate. The makers of that film make The Jinx: The LIfe and Deaths of Robert Durst in 2015, where Durst sits down for an interview that lasted 20 hours over the course of several years. During the filming of The Jinx, the makers confront Durst with the writing of “Beverley” on the cadaver note and comparing it to a letter that Durst himself wrote to Susan Berman in the past (known as the "Sareb letter" after her son Sareb found the letter). It’s written the same way and Beverley is misspelled the same way. At the end of the documentary, Durst is caught on a hot mic and says “There it is. You’re caught. What did you do? Killed them all of course.”

On March 14, 2015, Durst is arrested in New Orleans and had a loaded .38 caliber revolver with one spent shell casing, 5 ounces of marijuana, $42K in cash, his passport, maps of Louisiana, Florida, and Cuba, and a flesh toned latex map. Police later discovered an additional $117K in cash sent by a friend. Durst eventually pled guilty to a federal firearm charge and then was extradited to California to face charges of the murder of Susan Berman.

Laws on the Books:

Each episode we look at the laws on the books. 3 are real, 1 is fake. Can you guess which one is the fake?

A. In New York, it is illegal to commit adultery.

B. In Galveston, Texas, it is illegal to bury a body except in a cemetery.

C. In Beverly Hills, it is illegal for a person to discover a body or acquire the first knowledge of the death of a person and fail to report it.

D. In Louisiana, it’s illegal to wear a facial disguise calculated to conceal one’s identity (except during specified activities such as Halloween, Mardi Gras, etc.).

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this podcast are solely of the speakers and do not reflect the views of the Deputy DA's Association nor the District Attorney.

Questions and comments can be submitted through our website.

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Music by: The Only Ocean - "Snake"

Image by: Pixabay user Michael Gaida

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