Trial of the Century: Durst Indicates He Will Take The Stand in His Own Defense

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:

Robert Durst's murder trial has resumed after a 14-month hiatus due to the pandemic.  Durst is accused of murdering his close friend, Susan Berman in 2000.  The two met in the 1960's as students at UCLA.

Durst is the suspected serial killer and son of real estate investor Seymour Durst.  The Durst Organization is one of the oldest family-run commercial and residential real estate companies in New York City.  Durst ties to a prominent American family will add much sensationalism to the upcoming murder trial.

Berman herself came from a high profile family, one a bit more infamous than that of the Dursts.

She was the only child of Davie 'the Jew' Berman, a notorious gangster who ran Las Vegas casinos for Frank Costello, Meyer Lanksy and Lucky Luciano - she was considered 'Las Vegas royalty'.

The child of immigrant parents from Ukraine – David Berman turned to an early life of crime, out of desperation and survival. His childhood was defined by merciless poverty.

By the time he was 14, Davie Berman was fixing card games and running his own gambling operation in Sioux City, Iowa.

'I saw now why my father had indulged me in material excess, he had known fear and want and the terror of poverty as a child,' Susan revealed years prior to her death.

'Jews in the Midwest in the early 1900s had three options if they wanted to succeed: they could bob their noses and change their names and pass for gentile, they could go into menswear, or they can go into gambling,' said Susan. 

'My father chose gambling and all it spawned.'

Susan Berman was found executed in her Beverly Hills home on Christmas Eve in 2000, some believing the crime to have connections to her dad's Mob ties.  Her murder remained a cold case for 15-years until Durst was named a suspect.

On Monday, the Daily Mail examined the life of Susan Berman, how she became orphaned at the age of 13 after her father died of natural causes and her mother committed suicide.

Durst inadvertently confessed to the crime in a 2015 docuseries titled, 'The Jinx' where he was caught on hot-mic, saying: 'What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course'.

Prior to that moment, Susan's mysterious killing had all the hallmarks of a Mafia hit job, and many of her friends believed it was.

This was, after all, a woman who grew up in casinos doing her homework in the counting room while earning multiplication tables on a slot machine.

Susan went on to become a successful journalist, eccentric, larger-than-life and beloved for her gallows sense of humor, the Daily Mail notes.

In court this week, Durst sat masked in a wheelchair wearing a shabby suit and following proceedings through the court recorder’s notes on an electronic tablet because of hearing problems, the Guardian described. According to his lawyers, he has bladder cancer and is barely fit to stand trial at all.

Durst says he intends to testify in his own defense – a highly unusual move that defense attorneys rarely recommend.

“Get your popcorn and candy and a lounge chair,” he told the jury. “It’s going to be a while.”

- Alejandro Botticelli,

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