‘The Jinx’ subject Robert Durst pleads not guilty to 2000 murder

November 10th, 2016 | by staff
‘The Jinx’ subject Robert Durst pleads not guilty to 2000 murder
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Robert Durst, the subject of HBO’s 2015 docu-series, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, has been arraigned in Los Angeles, charged with the 2000 murder of friend Susan Berman. Durst allegedly shot her to keep her from talking to authorities regarding the whereabouts of Durst’s wife, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances back in 1982.

The real estate heir, now 73-years-old, appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom on Monday, looking frail in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace. When asked a procedural question by the judge, Durst replied “I am not guilty. I did not kill Susan Berman.” Prosecution and defense will meet again on February 15, 2017 to set a date for a preliminary hearing. The state will not seek the death penalty against Durst.

Real estate heir Robert Durst pleads not guilty to murder https://t.co/jCRvnXFg9x

— TIME (@TIME) November 7, 2016

There are so many twists and turns in this story, that it’s no surprise that the HBO series was a hit, and probably contributed to the success of Netflix’s true crime docu-series Making A Murderer. The 6-episode series, directed by Andrew Jarecki, investigated the disappearance of Durts’s first wife, Kathleen, in 1982, as well as the shooting murder and dismemberment of Durst’s neighbor, Morris Black (of which he was acquitted in 2003) and the murder of Susan Berman.

During the last episode of the series, Durst went into a bathroom, still wearing a live microphone, and was overheard mumbling, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” Soon after the episode aired in March of 2015, the FBI, who had their eyes on him before the documentary aired, arrested Durst in New Orleans. In February of this year, he plead guilty to possession of a firearm, illegal for a convicted felon, and was sentenced to 85 months in federal prison.

So, now a trial is on the way, but the question has been raised about using the audio from the documentary against Durst. Voice recordings are often a slippery slope, especially because, as some legal experts feel, audio recorded in a bathroom isn’t admissible because there is an expectation of privacy there. The admissibility of the audio was questioned in March of last year. The New York Times spoke to Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor and professor at Columbia University Law School, who said the statements could be admitted in court “so long as it can be shown that the tape wasn’t tampered with.”

Durst has avoided a murder rap in the past. Despite confessing he dismembered his former neighbor and threw his body parts into the bay, he was acquitted of his murder. (He did maintain the shooting was an act of defense, but who dismembers a body, presumably to hide it, after an accidental shooting?) Can an HBO series finally bring about a guilty verdict for Durst? Most importantly, when am I going to find the time to watch this series now?

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Photo credit: Getty Images, HBO

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