The subject of HBO’s 2015 documentary series “The Jinx,” New York real estate heir Robert Durst, has been ordered to stand trial on murder charges in the killing of a close friend in Los Angeles 18 years ago.
A judge ruled that there’s enough evidence to try the 75-year-old multimillionaire in connection with the point-blank shooting of Susan Berman at her home. Durst has pleaded not guilty.
Durst allegedly killed Berman, a friend from college and the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, to keep her from telling police what she knew about his wife’s 1982 disappearance in New York, prosecutors contend.
Kathleen Durst has been missing for more than 35 years and is presumed dead.
Robert Durst, who has never been charged with a crime related to his wife’s disappearance, has denied killing either woman.
Durst remains jailed without bail and was ordered back to court Nov. 8 for arraignment. The murder charge against him includes the special-circumstance allegations of lying in wait and killing a witness to a crime.
There is also an allegation that he personally used a handgun to carry out the murder.
At the end of the preliminary proceedings, an attorney for Durst argued that there was no hard evidence — DNA, fingerprints or witnesses, for instance — linking him to Berman’s killing.
Durst was arrested in New Orleans in March 2015, just hours before the airing of the final episode of HBO’s “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” The documentary project examined the disappearance of his wife, and the killings of Berman and a Texas neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001. A jury acquitted him of Black’s murder after finding that the killing was in self-defense.
The HBO series created a sensation after Durst was heard during the finale muttering to himself on a live microphone: “You’re caught! What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Prosecutors will try to make the connection between Berman’s death and the mystery around Kathleen Durst’s disappearance, which they want to show as the foundation for the motive in Berman’s slaying.
After Kathleen vanished, Berman served as Robert Durst’s unofficial spokeswoman. But prosecutors and witnesses in a series of earlier hearings said she did much more.
Berman told friends over the years that Durst acknowledged killing his wife and said she helped him cover his tracks. Prosecutors hope to use those hearsay statements at trial; defense attorneys have vigorously challenged that tactic.
Berman told one friend who testified at an earlier hearing that if anything happened to her, Durst would be the culprit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.