Robert Durst testifies he would lie to get out of trouble

Aug 16, 2021, 9:20 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2021, 11:45 pm
New York real estate scion Robert Durst, 78, answers questions from defense attorney Dick DeGuerin,...

New York real estate scion Robert Durst, 78, answers questions from defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, left, while testifying in his murder trial at the Inglewood Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. Durst is charged with the 2000 murder of Susan Berman inside her Benedict Canyon home. He testified Monday that he did not kill his best friend Berman. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A prosecutor attempted to ensnare Robert Durst in a web of deceit Tuesday after he admitted at his murder trial that he lied under oath in the past and would lie to get out of trouble.

The New York real estate heir said he hadn’t lied during five days of testimony, but a series of inconsistencies during cross-examination in Los Angeles County Superior Court threw his credibility into question and exposed the risk of putting a defendant on the witness stand.

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, who relished the prospect of grilling Durst and prepared a 200-page outline for questioning, got him to acknowledge there are some acts he would never be honest about.

Lewin asked how jurors were supposed to believe Durst.

“If you’ve said you’ve taken an oath to tell the truth but you’ve also just told us that you would lie if you needed to,” Lewin asked, “can you tell me how that would not destroy your credibility?”

“Because what I’m saying is mostly the truth,” Durst said. “There are certain things I would lie about, certain very important things.”

Durst said he would never admit killing Susan Berman — even if he had done so.

“‘Did you kill Susan Berman?’ is strictly a hypothetical,” Durst said. “I did not kill Susan Berman. But if I had, I would lie about it.”

Durst, 78, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the point-blank shooting of Berman, his longtime confidante, in her Los Angeles home. Durst said he found a lifeless Berman lying on a bedroom floor when he showed up for a planned visit just before Christmas 2000.

Durst said he had prepared for Lewin’s interrogation but was anxious.

“I feel relieved that I’m close to getting this over, and I’m nervous, of course,” Durst told Lewin. “What I want today is to be acquitted.”

Playing clips of interviews Durst gave filmmakers, an interrogation conducted after Durst’s arrest in New Orleans in 2015, and clips from his testimony, Lewin got Durst to admit several lies he told over the years.

Prosecutors say Durst silenced Berman as she prepared to speak with New York authorities about the disappearance of his wife, Kathie, in 1982 and how she provided a false alibi for him.

Durst acknowledged he wouldn’t admit killing Kathie Durst if he had. And he wouldn’t admit murdering his neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas, in 2001 if he had done so.

He has never been charged with a crime in his wife’s disappearance and has denied killing her. Her body has never been found, but she has been declared dead.

Durst was acquitted of murder in Black’s death after he testified he fatally shot the man during a struggle for a gun. He was convicted of destroying evidence for chopping up the man’s body and tossing it out to sea.

Testifying at trial is incredibly risky for a defendant, and most lawyers won’t put their clients on the stand. Durst’s testimony Tuesday showed he was particularly vulnerable because of a trail of lies.

“You don’t just make up lies for the sake of lying,” Lewin said. “You lie in particular when there is a reason for you to lie. And, generally speaking in this context, when it relates to incriminating evidence, correct?”

Durst agreed.

In questions from his own lawyer Monday, Durst admitted for the first time publicly that he sent a note directing police to Berman’s “cadaver.” He said he had always denied doing so because it made him look culpable.

Durst testified earlier Tuesday that he had not confessed to any killings when he was captured speaking to himself on a live microphone after filming a documentary about his life and the deaths of people close to him.

In the climactic scene of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” he could be heard in a bathroom muttering: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Durst, who had just been caught on video in a lie about the “cadaver” note, explained that he either didn’t say everything he was thinking or didn’t speak loudly enough for the mic to catch it.

“What I did not say out loud or, perhaps I said very softly, is: ‘They’ll all think I killed them all, of course,’ ” he testified.

Many viewers have interpreted the two sentences, which were edited together by the filmmakers for a dramatic conclusion to the six-part HBO series, as an admission.

Authorities arrested Durst the night before the finale aired in March 2015 because they expected him to flee after the gotcha moment and the unexpected dialogue that followed.

Durst testified that he had been planning to kill himself with a gun when FBI agents apprehended him in the lobby of a New Orleans hotel, where he was registered under an alias.

He told filmmakers that only the killer could have written the cadaver note. His comments off camera came after he was confronted during his final interview for “The Jinx” with a note he had once sent Berman with nearly identical handwriting and Beverly Hills misspelled “Beverley.”

“I wrote this one, but I did not write the cadaver one,” Durst insisted in the film. But moments later, he couldn’t tell the two apart. After an awkward moment blinking and burping, he put his head in his hands. He denied being the killer.

When he stepped off camera — unwittingly still wired for sound — he said: “There it is. You’re caught.”

Durst testified that he reached out to the filmmakers to restore his reputation after becoming a pariah following the Texas case.

Despite being a multimillionaire, he was rejected by condominium associations in New York, Houston and California, he said. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art wanted him to make a donation anonymously.

Despite advice from his lawyers and “everybody” not to give a series of interviews for the film project, Durst ignored them all.

“That was very, very, very big mistake,” Durst testified.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A computer screen displays a notice blocking the Wikipedia website through an online news site in I...
Associated Press

Wikipedia again up and running as Pakistan lifts ban on site

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan lifted its ban on Wikipedia services before dawn Tuesday, after the country’s media regulator blocked the site last week for not removing purportedly blasphemous content, claiming it hurts the sentiments of Muslims. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the unblocking late on Monday, according to a government statement. The site was blocked […]
2 hours ago
A woman walks in front of SoftBank store in Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Jan. 20, 2020. Japane...
Associated Press

Japan’s SoftBank logs $5.9B loss as tech investments tumble

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese investor SoftBank Group reported Tuesday that it sank into a deep loss for the October-December quarter, slammed by the global plunge in technology shares. SoftBank Group Corp. racked up a 783 billion yen ($5.9 billion) loss for the fiscal third quarter, a reversal from the 29 billion yen profit recorded the […]
2 hours ago
FILE - A logo of BP is seen at a gas station in London, on Nov. 1, 2022. British energy company BP ...
Associated Press

UK energy company BP’s profits double to $27.7 billion

LONDON (AP) — British energy firm BP reported record annual earnings on Tuesday, fueling demands that the U.K. government boost taxes for companies benefiting from the high price of oil and natural gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. London-based BP said underlying replacement cost profit, which excludes one-time items and fluctuations in the value of […]
2 hours ago
FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Se...
Associated Press

Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 finance and HR jobs in 2023

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing plans to make staffing cuts in the aerospace company’s finance and human resources departments in 2023, with a loss of around 2,000 jobs, the company said. “We expect about 2,000 reductions primarily in Finance and HR through a combination of attrition and layoffs,” Boeing said in a statement Monday. “While no […]
1 day ago
A currency trader watches monitors near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (...
Associated Press

Asian stocks mixed after Wall St sinks on rate fears

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday after Wall Street sank under pressure from interest rate worries, Japanese wages rose and Australia’s central bank hiked its benchmark lending rate. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Tokyo and Sydney declined. Oil prices rose. Wall Street sank for a second day Monday after unexpectedly strong […]
1 day ago
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, left, listens as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albane...
Associated Press

Australian, New Zealand leaders’ talk focuses on China

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian and New Zealand prime ministers met Tuesday to talk about China’s importance to their national economies, resolving to voice their disagreements with their most important trading partner that is becoming more assertive in their region. New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins made Australia the destination of his first overseas trip […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Robert Durst testifies he would lie to get out of trouble