Convicted murderer Robert Durst: ‘Better today than he was’ on day of death of friend

Convicted murderer Robert Durst, the subject of a popular HBO documentary series, is improving, his defense lawyer predicted, and will likely appeal his conviction on a murder charge. In a statement after his conviction,…

Convicted murderer Robert Durst: ‘Better today than he was’ on day of death of friend

Convicted murderer Robert Durst, the subject of a popular HBO documentary series, is improving, his defense lawyer predicted, and will likely appeal his conviction on a murder charge.

In a statement after his conviction, his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said, “I am told Mr. Durst is better today than he was on the morning of March 14, 2015.”

DeGuerin also called the Durst conviction, “most legal experts,” including New York State Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings, “a miscarriage of justice, and most politicians, friends, and family members of victims the families of Jill Barad and Susan Berman would agree with me.”

On March 14, 2015, in what the prosecution called a planned execution, Durst killed Berman, an acquaintance of Durst’s, as she prepared to speak to Kathleen Durst, who was Durst’s estranged first wife and his one-time girlfriend.

After being arrested in New Orleans in March 2015, Durst was questioned and declined to testify, leading his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, to argue that Durst was in New Orleans to attend a funeral. However, HBO’s “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” series compelled Billings to press Durst, who contradicted earlier testimony and admitted to several murders.

On Friday, after a four-week trial, Billings convicted Durst of first-degree murder, ruling that Durst had falsely told an investigator that Berman’s death was “a simply unfortunate accident.”

The 85-year-old Durst has been in jail since March 15, 2016, when he was taken into custody at a New Orleans hotel after the HBO documentary series was released. At trial, he admitted to killing Berman but maintained that he was “not responsible” for the death. In March 2016, Durst again walked out of court a free man after federal investigators found a letter from his hotel room to Berman in which Durst referred to Berman as “my friend.”

Despite the conflicting accounts from Durst, his conviction demonstrates the strength of the New York prosecutor’s case. Billings told Durst that she was convinced by his continued lies and unwillingness to tell the truth in the aftermath of Berman’s death, as well as his comments in the documentary about Berman’s involvement in the murder of his wife.

To obtain a conviction, the defense needed to convince the jury that the prosecutor had not met his burden to show that the charge was objectively provable — a legal principle called an assumption of guilty.

Billings stated that the murder conviction was not “objectively provable” because Durst’s testimony at trial was so selective, allowing her to find the evidence “overwhelmingly strong.”

On the same day that Durst was convicted of first-degree murder, the New York City tabloids published lead sheets describing Durst’s admitted involvement in two other murders in 2000.

Read the full story at DNAinfo.

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