LOS ANGELES (CNS/CBSLA) — After months of legal wrangling over the use of handwriting experts to determine who wrote an anonymous December 2000 note to police alerting them to a body inside a Benedict Canyon home, an attorney for millionaire New York real estate scion Robert Durst now admits his client wrote the message.
Durst, 76, is accused of killing his friend and confidante Susan Berman, 55, inside her Benedict Canyon home, allegedly because she was prepared to speak to New York investigators about the never-solved disappearance of Durst’s wife in 1982.
A key piece of evidence in the case is a so-called “cadaver note” that was mailed to Beverly Hills police and postmarked a day before Berman’s body was discovered. The note simply contained the word “cadaver” and Berman’s address.
Despite acknowledging that Durst wrote the letter, his attorney continued to insist that his client did not kill Berman and does not know who did.
DeGuerin insisted that he had never publicly admitted or denied that Durst wrote the note.
Durst’s defense team filed a motion earlier this year seeking to exclude handwriting and handprinting evidence aimed at determining who penned the note. Prosecutors then filed a motion arguing that such evidence be admitted at trial.
Durst has been behind bars since March 14, 2015. He was taken into custody in a New Orleans hotel room hours before the airing of the final episode of HBO’s documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which examined the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathie, along with the killings of Berman and his Texas neighbor Morris Black.
Durst went on trial for Black’s death and dismemberment after a nationwide manhunt in which he was located in Pennsylvania, but a jury acquitted him of murder after agreeing with Durst’s contention that he had killed his neighbor in self-defense.
In the finale of HBO’s “The Jinx,” Durst is caught on microphone muttering to himself, “Killed them all, of course,” and “There it is, you’re caught.”
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin argued last year that Durst was “responsible” for his wife’s death in 1982 and got Berman to help him cover his tracks — in part by having her pretend to be his wife in a telephone call to the dean of the New York medical school his wife was attending at the time of her disappearance. The prosecutor contends Durst killed Berman because he
was “afraid she was going to talk.”
According to various media reports, Durst ultimately reached a settlement under which the family paid him $60 million to $65 million.