Durst of 'The Jinx' HBO series faces more testimony in murder case

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 17, 2017 1:14 PM

By Phoenix Tso

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Robert Durst, the real estate scion tied to slayings explored in HBO's series "The Jinx," was expected to face a third day of testimony from an old friend connecting him to the murder of a close confidante.

Nick Chavin, 72, a New York advertising executive, said on Thursday that Durst privately confessed to him in 2014 that he killed Susan Berman, a close confidante Durst stands charged with murdering.

Chavin also testified that Berman, a mutual friend, had confided to him decades before that Durst admitted to her that he killed his wife, Kathleen Durst who vanished in 1982 when the couple lived in New York.

Durst, 73, is charged with first-degree murder in Berman's execution-style shooting in Los Angeles and has pleaded not guilty. He also has denied having anything to do with the disappearance of his wife, whose body was never found. He was not charged in that probe.

Durst's ties to both cases, and his 2003 acquittal in the killing and dismemberment of a Texas neighbor, were chronicled last year on HBO in its popular documentary series "The Jinx," drawing national attention to various mysteries surrounding the multimillionaire defendant.

Durst was formally charged with the Berman killing a day after HBO aired the final episode of its series, in which Durst was recorded muttering to himself off-camera: "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."

Durst told authorities after his arrest that he smoked marijuana daily and was high on methamphetamine during his appearance on "The Jinx," according to court records.

On Friday, Chavin was scheduled to answer more questions from prosecutors and could also face cross-examination by Durst's attorneys.

Berman, 55, was found shot to death in her home a couple of months after it was revealed that police in New York had reopened an investigation into the disappearance and presumed slaying of Kathleen Durst, who was a medical student in New York when she vanished.

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Prosecutors have asserted Robert Durst killed Berman in December 2000 because of what she knew about his wife's unsolved disappearance.

The judge, in a rare arrangement, allowed Chavin and another witness to take the witness stand early in the case, with their testimony videotaped and preserved in the event that they die or become incapacitated before Durst's trial, which is not expected to begin before next year.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Alistair Bell)