Robert Durst sentenced to life in prison for murder of Susan Berman

LOS ANGELES — New York real estate heir Robert Durst was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison without parole for the murder of his best friend.

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Durst, 78, was convicted last month of killing Susan Berman, a journalist and screenwriter, in December 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported. He will spend the rest of his life in a California prison, the newspaper reported.

Durst, whose life story inspired a Hollywood movie and an HBO documentary, was convicted of first-degree murder, The New York Times reported. The jury believed prosecutors who said Durst shot Berman because he feared she was going to tell investigators what she had learned about the killing of Kathie McCormack Durst, The New York Times reported.

The sentencing followed a five-month trial, in which Durst took the witness stand for 15 days, the Los Angeles Times reported. Durst testified after prosecutors spent weeks arguing that he was guilty not only of Berman’s murder but also his wife’s 1982 disappearance and the fatal shooting of his neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001, the newspaper reported.

According to prosecutors, Berman provided a phony alibi for Durst when his wife disappeared, The Associated Press reported. Durst testified he did not kill either woman, but admitted under cross-examination that he would lie if he had.

Andrew Jarecki, the filmmaker behind the HBO documentary “The Jinx,” and several jurors from the trial were also in attendance Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Nick Chavin, who testified that Durst admitted to the murder during a conversation in 2014, also attended the sentencing.

“I was robbed, and my beautiful son was robbed, of an absolutely extraordinary brilliant person whose life was savagely taken,” Deni Marcus, one of Berman’s cousins, said during the four victim impact statements that were delivered to the judge, according to The New York Times.

“I have not had one day off from the absolute destruction, grief or pain, that this has caused me,” Berman’s stepson, Sareb Kaufman, told the court. “I go to sleep angry, wake up angry, I eat, sleep and drink angry.

“Any hope of any kind of redemption you can find is in letting them know where to find Kathie.”

Robert Durst did not speak during the hearing and kept his eyes straight ahead the entire time, the Los Angeles Times reported.