'The Jinx' Murder Trial: Release date, case, accused and all you need to know about Court TV's coverage of Robert Durst's trial
The 76-year-old, now dogged by his suspected involvement in several deaths including that of his wife who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, is on trial for the killing of a friend in 2001
"What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." These were lines uttered by Robert Durst, off-screen, as he walked off with the microphone still attached to his shirt after sitting through an interview for Andrew Jarecki's HBO documentary 'The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst'. Once the heir to Manhattan's renowned real-estate empire, Durst was known as the black sheep of the family whose fall from grace was less than graceful.
The 76-year-old, now dogged by his suspected involvement in several deaths including that of his wife who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, is on trial for the killing of a close friend in 2001. Court TV is giving us access to it in a segment titled 'The Jinx' Murder Trial. Here is what you need to know about it.
The airing date for 'The Jinx' Murder Trial has not been announced as of yet. Please watch this space for updates.
Durst has been suspected in three murder cases — the 1982 disappearance and possible killing of his wife Kathleen McCormack, the murder of his close friend Susan Berman in 2000, and the gruesome slaying of his elderly Texan neighbor, Morris Black in 2001. The real-estate heir married McCormack, a 29-year-old medical student, in 1973, but she disappeared in 1982.
Friends later revealed to authorities that the couple's relationship had grown fraught and that Durst had even pressed his wife to have an abortion. Five days after McCormack's disappearance, he reported her missing to the police. Family and friends were quick to point their fingers at him. "I think he killed her," McCormack's sister, Mary, recalled telling her husband after Durst informed her of her sister's disappearance.
Her body was never found and Durst maintained that he had no idea what happened to her. He was never charged for it either and McCormack was officially declared dead in 2017.
In 2000, Durst became a suspect in the murder of his best friend and former publicist, Susan Berman, whom he had met in college. McCormack's disappearance, which had turned into a cold case, was reopened. Berman had been involved in the 1982 case, after providing an alibi for Durst when he was questioned by authorities.
Durst married a second time, gave his new bride control over his finances, and rented a room in Galveston, Texas, disguised as a mute woman. During this time, he heard from Berman, who had asked for help with her financial constraints. Durst sent her two checks for $25,000. Berman was later found murdered, execution-style, in her Los Angeles home on Christmas Eve, 2000, and her presumed killer had mailed an anonymous letter to the police informing them of a "cadaver" at Berman's address.
Prosecutors in Berman's murder case believe Durst may have killed Berman to prevent her from implicating him in McCormack's case because she may have known about the circumstances of the 1982 disappearance/murder.
In September 2001, a man fishing with his children found a torso floating in the waters of Galveston Bay. The police were called to the scene, and during a search, a man's arms and legs were discovered in plastic garbage bags, nearby. The bags contained clues that led authorities to the apartment that Durst lived, where they found him in a woman's guise and took him into custody.
During the trial, Durst said that he had killed Black in self-defense amid a struggle with a gun, and then chopped up his body in panic, while inebriated. A jury acquitted Durst of the murder charges, but he did plead guilty to tampering (dismembering Black and dumping the body parts in the Galveston Bay) and jumping bail. Durst was arrested for the murder of Berman on March 14, 2015, a day before the finale of 'The Jinx' aired (which included his off-screen confession).
In 2019, after nearly 20 years of denying that he had written the "cadaver" note, Durst admitted that he was in fact the one who wrote it. The 2020 trial is expected to take as long as five months, with prosecutors planning on introducing over 2,000 exhibits and calling more than 100 witnesses, including the filmmakers of 'The Jinx', according to a New York Times report.
Durst is the son of New York real estate mogul, Seymor Durst. He studied economics before joining the family business in the 60s. He had a difficult time growing up after witnessing the death or suicide of his mother, who jumped off the roof of his childhood home when he was seven. By the 1990s, Durst had turned into a nuisance, with his erratic behavior, cutting back on work hours, siphoning money from the company, and urinating in his brother's trash bin.
He lost his father's favor and instead, his younger brother took over the business in 1994. Devastated by his father's decision, he cut himself from the family and didn't even attend his father's funeral in 1995. In 1982, he emerged as a suspect in the case of the disappearance of his wife, which turned cold with no leads. He was then suspected for the murder of his friend Susan Berman, but he wasn't charged in that either due to a lack of evidence.
In 2001, he was charged and acquitted of killing his elderly neighbor. However, Durst never refrained from talking about his life. In 2010, he talked to the producers of 'All Good Things', a 2010 film that presents a highly fictionalized version of him and his life. He agreed to sit with them for an interview spanning more than 20 hours, which became the six-part docuseries 'The Jinx' and gave them access to his private papers, family mementos, legal papers, etc.
In the film, he admitted to violence towards McCormack and lying to investigators. But the most shocking discovery that the filmmakers made was the discovery of a letter addressed to Berman in Beverley Hills. Like on the "cadaver" note, the address had been printed in big block letters, and "Beverley" was misspelled. Just 24 hours before episode six was due for broadest, Durst was arrested on a murder warrant. He turns 77 during the 2020 trials and still remains worth $100 million.
Court TV is a multi-platform network devoted to live coverage with in-depth reporting and expert analysis of the nation's most important and compelling trials. Court TV is part of Katz Networks, a division of The EW Scripps Company.
We will update this space with the official trailer for 'The Jinx' Murder Trial soon.
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