(AP) — Multimillionaire Robert Durst
lived a life of such privilege and ease that he didn't bother keeping track of the many lies he told over the years, and it may have been his undoing, a prosecutor said Tuesday during a new round of opening statements at his murder trial
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin
woven a tapestry of Durst's statements — what he said were truth and lies — to lay out evidence that will show the New York
real estate heir murdered his best friend and a neighbor to cover up the mystery of his wife's disappearance.
“One of Bob Durst
’s hallmarks is that, despite all of the lies he tells, he doesn’t take or use the mental energy
to even remember them because his life has been spent privileged in getting away with whatever he wants,” Lewin said. “The evidence will show that’s going to be his undoing in a lot of ways in all three of these cases.”
Durst, 78, is charged with only one count of murder: the murder of his best friend, Susan Berman
, in her Los Angeles home in 2000.
Durst has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has stated that he has no idea who killed Berman, his longtime confidante and once an unofficial spokeswoman when Kathie Durst
went missing in New York in 1982.
But, according to Lewin, the death
of Berman, who was shot in the back of the head at close range, and Durst's admission that he fatally shot and dismembered a drifter in Texas
in 2001 are both connected to the Kathie Durst mystery.
“Everything starts with Kathie Durst’s disappearance and death at Mr. Durst’s hands,” Lewin explained.
Durst was slumped in a wheelchair, dressed in a blue sportcoat, a white dress shirt
, and tan pants, his gray hair disheveled, and he appeared emotionless behind a white mask as he followed the proceedings on a tablet computer that provided a real-time transcript because he has impaired hearing.
Lewin gave a brief opening statement to remind jurors of what they had heard over the previous six days in March 2020, before the case was recessed for an unprecedented 14 months due to the coronavirus pandemic
On Wednesday, defense attorneys will present their own summary of the evidence, after shocking the audience last year when they announced that Durst would testify.
Durst was acquitted of murder in a Texas court after testifying that he killed Morris Black in a Galveston rooming house
when the man pulled a gun
on him and they wrestled for the weapon.
Durst had gone into hiding in Texas after New York prosecutors reopened the investigation into Kathie Durst's suspected death, and he killed Black because he had discovered Durst's identity and was attempting to use the wealthy scion to buy a house for the two of them, according to Lewin.
Durst murdered Black about nine months after Berman was discovered dead in her Benedict Canyon home in December 2000, with only her address and the word "CADAVER" written in block letters on the note.
Durst told the filmmakers and investigators of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” in 2010 and 2012 that he did not write the note, and that whoever did had to be Berman’s killer in 2015.
“You're writing a note to the cops that only the murderer could have written,” Durst explained.
After defense lawyers admitted before trial that Durst wrote the note, Lewin said that now amounts to a confession, as evidence showed he once penned a note to Berman in identical handwriting, with her address similarly misspelled “Beverley” Hills instead of Beverly.
According to the defense, Durst discovered Berman's body
, panicked, and fled, leaving a note for police
to find her, but her body was discovered before police received the note.
Durst killed Berman to prevent her from telling police how she assisted him in covering up his wife's disappearance, according to Lewin.
Lewin played a clip of testimony from Nick Chavin, a mutually close friend of the defendant and victim, who stated that Berman once told him that Durst had killed Kathie, and that Durst told him this after the two had dinner in New York in 2014.
According to Chavin, Durst said on the sidewalk, "I had no choice, it was her or me."
Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster who would never turn down a stranger, had no idea Durst had come to kill her when she let him into her home shortly before Christmas, according to Lewin.
“She turned around because she trusted him, because he was her close friend, because he was not someone to be afraid of,” Lewin explained. “She turned around, she took a few steps, and he basically blew her brains out.”
Lewin displayed a photograph of Berman lying on her back, her raven hair strewn across the floor, and dark blood pooling beneath her chin.