New testimony in the Los Angeles murder trial of Robert Durst alleged that the millionaire had a fight with his first wife, former New Hyde Park resident Kathleen McCormack, which led to an “accident on the stairs” prior to her disappearance in 1982, according to a report by the Daily Beast.
Durst, 78, is currently on trial for the alleged murder of his friend Susan Berman. One of Berman’s boarding school friends, Susan Harmon, testified against Durst, claiming that Berman told her that the millionaire and McCormack got into a fight before she went missing, according to the Daily Beast.
“She said that her friend Bobby had had a fight with his wife,” Harmon testified according to the report. “She didn’t know what she was going to do. He’d had a fight, there was an accident on the stairs, and that she had to do something.”
In May, the trial resumed after a 14-month recess and featured testimony from Fadwa Najamy, the sister of Gilberte Najamy, who was the last person to see Kathie Durst alive, according to the New York Daily News.
Najamy told the jury she heard McCormack on the phone with her real-estate mogul husband speaking calmly, according to the Daily News. But she recognized “it was very clear she was not happy, not content and had something to talk about.”
In 2000, Berman was found dead surrounded in a pool of dried blood insider her home in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles.
Officials say she had been shot in the back of the head. Prosecutors claim Durst murdered McCormack, who was looking to divorce him, and later shot Berman to cover his tracks.
Durst’s trial began in early March last year, the same day California confirmed one of the state’s first deaths as a result of the coronavirus. Last year Durst’s motion for a mistrial due to the coronavirus pandemic was denied by a Los Angeles judge.
If convicted, Durst would be eligible for the death penalty.
Durst, heir to the fortune of the multimillion-dollar Durst Organization, a Manhattan real estate group, was acquitted of murder in the 2001 killing and dismemberment of Morris Black, his elderly neighbor in Galveston, Texas.
Six years ago, McCormack’s sisters and then 101-year-old mother filed suit in the state Supreme Court in Mineola against Durst, alleging that he had murdered McCormack and caused the family “extreme emotional distress, humiliation, mental and physical anguish, as well as economic losses” by keeping her body hidden.
The ongoing lawsuit charges Durst violated the family’s right to sepulcher, a common-law statute providing legal recourse if the mishandling of a deceased person’s body causes mental anguish.
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.
At the conclusion of the HBO true-crime series “The Jinx” by filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, Robert Durst, upon being confronted with new evidence in the murder of Berman, mutters to himself in the bathroom, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Enough evidence has never been assembled to charge Durst in her death, though the family cited his words in “The Jinx” for their lawsuit.