Real estate heir Robert Durst says he lied to police about his wife’s disappearance at night
LOS ANGELES – Real estate heir Robert Durst said on Wednesday that he has changed his mind on several occasions as to whether he actually saw his wife board a commuter train for Manhattan the night of his disappearance in 1982, and said he had lied to the police when he told them he then spoke to her on the phone.
“Everyone has asked me that question and I’ve changed my mind maybe a dozen times,” said Durst, questioned by his lawyer Dick DeGuerin during his murder trial in Los Angeles. “Did I really see Kathie come through the doors and get on the train?” The answer is no. But there is no other place to go. “
Durst, on trial for the 2000 murder of his best friend Susan Berman, has never been charged over the disappearance of Kathie Durst, who was later declared legally dead. But prosecutors were allowed to present evidence that Durst killed his wife and then killed Berman as she was about to tell authorities what she knew.
He said he never saw or heard from his wife again after seeing her board the train platform in the New York hamlet of Katonah, near their home, on January 31, 1982. But a few days later, he told a detective investigating her disappearance that he called her and spoke to her in their apartment in Manhattan, which she had gone to because she had medical school in the Bronx the next morning.
“It was a lie,” Durst said. “I wanted to convince him that Kathie had come back.
Durst, 78, spoke slowly in a strained, husky voice, sitting in a wheelchair instead of the witness’s chair, and reading his lawyer’s questions on a tablet giving live transcripts because he had to hard to hear.
He said he was not worried after not hearing from her for several days. He said she often worked very long shifts during her internship and slept in friends’ dorms.
Durst testified that even when he heard messages on his school’s answering machine saying that she had not shown up, he assumed it was because of her uncontrolled cocaine use, which had taxed their relationship. .
“I was imagining she was having fun somewhere,” Durst said. “It hadn’t occurred to me that anything had happened to him. Rather, what had Kathie done to Kathie?
Durst said Kathie fabricated and exaggerated stories about her abuse, including a pair of dramatized incidents in the movie “All Good Things” starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst and shown to jurors earlier in the trial.
In one, Kathie climbed out of their apartment window, onto a patio and into a neighbor’s apartment, to whom she told Durst was beating her.
Durst said he hadn’t even interacted with his wife and thought she was in the office the whole time.
He testified that someone “had convinced Kathie that if she could show that I was physically abusing her, she would get more of the settlement if we got a divorce.”
He also took issue with an account from the film that was given in the testimony of Kathie’s brother Jim McCormack, who recalled Durst dragging her out of a reunion with her family by the hair.
“I grabbed Kathie’s hat, put it on Kathie’s head, grabbed Kathie’s coat and pushed her out the door,” Durst said.
DeGuerin, Durst’s attorney, made the rare and risky move of calling an accused in a stand-up murder trial on Monday.
His first questions to Durst were, “Did you kill Susan Berman?” and “Do you know who did it?” with Durst answering “no” to both. DeGuerin then walked Durst through a step-by-step account of his biography that is expected to continue for several days.
Durst was arrested on a warrant for the murder of Berman in New Orleans in 2015 on the eve of the airing of the final episode of HBO’s documentary series “The Jinx” about his life and the deaths he suffered. been linked. He told many of the same stories on the show that he repeated from the booth.