Real-estate scion Robert Durst was sentenced to life in prison for the execution-style killing of longtime friend Susan Berman on Thursday — nearly 40 years after the disappearance of his first wife, Kathie McCormack of New Hyde Park.
The sentencing is the first murder conviction for Durst, the 78-year-old heir to the Manhattan-based Durst Organization who was arrested in connection with Berman’s death in 2015.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judgde Mark Windham handed down the life sentence to Durst after he was convicted of first-degree murder in September, according to multiple reports. Durst was already required to be sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole under California law.
Durst’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, reportedly said he plans to appeal, according to multiple reports. Efforts to reach DeGuerin or officials for comment were unavailing.
Berman, a journalist, was found dead in 2000 on Christmas Eve, lying in a pool of blood after being shot in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home.
Prosecutors claimed Durst first murdered McCormack — his first wife and a New Hyde Park resident — who was looking to divorce him, then shot Berman to cover his tracks.
McCormack disappeared on Jan. 31, 1982; her body was never found. Thirty-six years after her disappearance, McCormack was declared dead by a Manhattan court in 2017. Earlier this year, the Westchester County district attorney’s office reopened the cold case investigating McCormack’s disappearance.
“Not a single day goes by that we do not think about our beautiful, smart and kind sister Kathleen,” the McCormack family said in a statement to News12 last month. “Today, more than ever before, it is clear that she was murdered by Robert Durst in Westchester County. The justice system in Los Angeles has finally served the Berman family. It is now time for Westchester to do the same for the McCormack family and charge Durst for the murder of his wife, Kathie, which occurred almost forty years ago.”
Efforts to reach a family member for comment were unavailing.
Durst was acquitted in the 2001 slaying of Morris Black, his elderly neighbor in Galveston, Texas, whose body was dismembered with an ax and bone saw. Prosecutors have tied the Black murder to alleged attempts by Durst to cover his tracks.
At the conclusion of the HBO true crime series “The Jinx” by filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, Durst, upon being confronted with new evidence in the murder of Berman, mutters to himself in the bathroom.
On a recording picked up by a live microphone, he says, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”