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Robert Durst: how a murderer’s death keeps his victims from finding closure | Robert Durst

In the last months of Robert Durst’s life, it seemed as if the walls were finally getting close to the disgraced millionaire 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 in a California hospital on Monday upended the cases against the 78-year-old. The murder case related to the death of his ex-wife Kathleen McCormack Durst will come to a halt, and thanks to legal technology, the conviction for the murder of his girlfriend, Susan Berman, will soon be overturned.

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

But even though a jury found Durst guilty last fall of murdering Berman, a close confidant and friend, California law states that if a defendant dies while a case is on appeal, as with Durst’s case, the conviction is voided, according to Nima Rahmani says. , a former federal prosecutor not involved in the case.

“As the law is now, Durst’s conviction will be overturned and it looks as if it never happened,” Rahmani said. This is a unique case. It’s truly unprecedented that someone could be implicated in three different murders in three states and escape justice.”

James McCormack, left, brother of Cathy Durst, listens as attorney Robert Abrams speaks during a news conference on November 9. Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

Meanwhile, the case against Durst over the death of his wife could no longer be pursued, because officials could not prosecute a dead man. This means that the charges against Durst will have to be dismissed, Rahmani said.

“After 40 years spent seeking justice for her death, I know how upsetting this news is to Kathleen Durst’s family,” Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocca said in a statement. “We had hoped we’d have the opportunity to see Mr. Durst finally face charges for the murder of Kathleen because we know that all families never stop wanting closure, justice and accountability.”

Durst was convicted of Berman’s murder in September 2020. 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, journalist Berman was described as an “extraordinary human being” and a loyal friend who cares deeply about others.

John Lewin, the deputy attorney general for Los Angeles County, who sued Durst for Berman’s murder, said in a statement. “To the end he was hostile, unrepentant, and unrepentant. My thoughts and sympathies are with his victims.”

At the time of his death, New York prosecutors were preparing to request Durst’s transfer to the state to face charges in the death of his ex-wife McCormack, who disappeared in 1982 and whose body has not been found.

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

Until last year, no charges had been brought against Durst, who denied killing McCormack, in connection with her disappearance despite multiple efforts to close the case over decades. Authorities reopened the case in 1999, searching Lake and the couple’s home. McCormack’s family criticized officials for not taking urgent action.

A man standing behind a woman with his hand on her shoulder, supporting her.
Denny Marcus, cousin of Susan Berman, poses with her son, Tommy Marcus, as she makes a statement at the sentencing of Robert Durst on October 14. Photo: Myung Ji Chun/Los Angeles Times/Rex/Shutterstock

The McCormack family’s attorney said the investigation into the case is continuing.

Despite Robert Durst’s death, ongoing investigations into those who helped him cover up her murder continue. On January 31, 2022, the 40th anniversary of Cathy’s murder, we will provide another update. In the meantime, please say a prayer for Cathy and his other victims,” said Robert Abrams.

By the time she disappeared, McCormack was a medical student preparing to become a pediatrician. Her family says Durst was abusive, and that McCormack previously needed hospital treatment for the injuries he caused.

Authorities have sought to put Dorset behind bars for years for his role in crimes officials believe are related to McCormack’s disappearance and possible murder.

Rokah reopened the case in May, shortly after taking over as attorney general. Rahmani added that the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office has long faced criticism for waiting to bring charges against Durst for McCormack’s murder.

No one was willing to stand trial and prosecute the case. Unfortunately, due to this long delay, Cathy Durst and her family will not receive the criminal justice they deserve,” Rahmani said.

The Jinx, who propelled the millionaire into the spotlight, chronicled McCormack’s disappearance, the Berman murder and the death of Durst’s neighbor, Maurice Black, in 2001, in Galveston, Texas, where Durst was hiding while disguised as a deaf and dumb woman. He was arrested for Berman’s murder on the eve of the series’ final episode airing, in which Durst appeared and confessed to the murders, telling himself, “What the hell did you do?…Kill them all, of course.”

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

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