Durst, 78, was convicted by a jury on September 17 of shooting his best friend Susan Berman in 2000 in her Beverly Hills home, hours before she was set to speak with investigators about the mysterious disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, who was also. It was last seen in 1982.
Durst, the eccentric heir to a New York real estate empire, took his stand at his months-long trial and denied killing McCormack Durst and Berman. He said he found Berman on her bedroom floor with a fatal bullet in the back of her head.
But under interrogation, Durst testified that he would have perjured himself if he had killed them. Prosecutors’ questions also prompted Durst to admit he had perjured himself five times during the trial.
Additionally, Nick Chavin, an old friend of both Durst and Berman, testified that the defendant told him, “It was she or I,” referring to Berman. “I had no choice.”
As part of their ruling, the jurors agreed that the crime satisfied “special circumstances” in California law, which allows Durst to be sentenced to life in prison without parole, for killing a witness to a crime, waiting and using a firearm in a murder. California has abolished the death penalty.
His lawyer said he was in coronavirus quarantine in prison at the time the jury announced the guilty verdicts.
The verdict comes years after Durst’s infamous role in the 2015 HBO documentary “The Jinx.” In the final moments of the show, Durst went to the bathroom, apparently not realizing his microphone was still on, and made a series of comments that sounded Like a confession.
He said in a series of seemingly unrelated sentences: “Here it is. You’ve been caught.” “He was right. I was wrong.”
“What the hell did you do?” he said. “Of course I killed them all.”
However, transcripts of the audio recording in court revealed that the quotes had been cut and edited to be of a different order and context, the New York Times reported. Durst said he was “high on methamphetamine” while recording the documentary.
McCormack Durst was declared legally dead in 2017. Her body has not been found and no one has been charged in the case.
Berman’s death isn’t the first Durst to face trial. In 2003, Durst told police that he had killed and dismembered his neighbor in Galveston, Texas, two years earlier. He said he shot the man and cut him in panic. Prosecutors said he wanted to steal the man’s identity and escape the investigation into his wife’s disappearance.
CNN’s Eric Levinson and Paul Virkman contributed to this report.