Technically speaking, 77-year-old murder defendant Robert Durst is still on trial in the death of friend Susan Berman, but his attorneys say they shouldn’t have to deal with the lengthy delay. They want the judge to declare a mistrial. .
Opening statements were in early March. Though Durst is only charged in Berman’s death, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said that the defendant murdered not only her, but wife Kathie McCormack, who went missing in 1982.
Durst was previously acquitted in 2003 for killing neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas. The defense at the time, including current co-counsel Dick DeGuerin, argued the homicide wasn’t intentional. Durst testified, and admitted to dismembering the body and to posing as a woman. Black’s head was never found. Jurors sided with the defense’s point of view. DeGuerin said in opening statements in the Berman trial the shooting of Black was an accident.
eGuerin said in March that Durst walked in on Berman’s body, panicked, and sent the infamous cadaver letter to police. But the defendant didn’t kill her, the attorney asserted.
Spring has come and gone since then. The COVID-19 pandemic slow-down, if not outright stalled, court proceedings across the country. That includes the Durst trial, which got suspended just days after opening statements.
In April, they asked for a mistrial over the delay, saying that even in a base case scenario, more than 80 days would’ve passed before jurors reconvened.
“In these circumstances, the jurors are particularly likely to conduct their own independent research regarding the case and/or discuss the case with friends or family in the more than two month gap in the presentation of evidence,” Durst’s lawyers argued in a Tuesday filing obtained by Law&Crime.
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