Robert Durst testifies about last weekend he saw wife Kathie before she vanished
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New York City real estate heir Robert Durst testified Wednesday about the last night he saw his wife Kathie before she went missing in 1982, taking the stand in a murder trial over the 2000 death of his best friend Susan Berman.
He also admitted that he changed the story about when and where he last saw his wife.
“Did I actually see Kathie walk through the doors and onto the train? The answer is no,” he said. “But there is no place else to go.”
The 78-year-old defendant was featured in the HBO docuseries, “The Jinx,” which looked into three deaths of people close to him – Kathie Durst, Berman and his former Texas neighbor, of whose killing he was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. He was charged in connection with the shooting death of Berman after the shocking series finale.
Prosecutors share photo of Robert Durst (right), Susan Berman (middle) and Kathie Durst (right) at Robert Durst’s Aug. 11 murder trial. (Fox News)
Berman was shot in the back of the head from close range in her Los Angeles home in 2000, and prosecutors allege she was killed in order to silence her before she could give police information about Kathie Durst’s disappearance at 29 years old.
Durst testified that the weekend of her disappearance in 1982, he and his wife went to their house in South Salem, N.Y., late Friday night. After a weekend of partying, he said Kathie Durst wanted to drive back to their place in Manhattan and that he convinced her to take a train.
After driving her to the station in Katonah, he said, he never saw her again.
Robert Durst sits in a police vehicle as he leaves a courthouse in New Orleans, Louisiana March 17, 2015. Durst, scion of one of New York’s largest real estate empires, was charged on gun and drug charges, after he was arrested in New Orleans on a murder warrant issued by Los Angeles County Saturday. REUTERS/Lee Celano (UNITED STATES – Tags: CRIME LAW)
But he gave investigators conflicting stories, admitting to making up a lie about later having a drink with the mayor and speaking with Kathie Durst in New York City days after he claimed to have dropped her off at the train station.
“That was a lie,” he said Wednesday. “I wanted to convince him [the detective] that Kathie had gotten back.”
He said Kathie Durst was attending med school at the time and it wasn’t uncommon for them to go days without seeing one another, and that he didn’t call family members or police until the Thursday after she went missing.
Still, her med school left him messages reporting she hadn’t attended clinics on Monday and Tuesday of that week.
He said he figured she was out partying and blowing off steam.
“It never dawned on me and anything could happen to her,” he testified. “It was more like what had Kathie done to Kathie.”
Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin asked him what he meant by that.
“What do you mean your concern was?” he asked.
“The cocaine and the alcohol,” Durst replied. “…I was still not imagining that something could happen to Kathie. I was not imagining how the last time I would see her was when she stepped out onto the train, I was imagining that she was out someplace having fun, with Gilberta or other friends.”
New York real estate scion Robert Durst, 78, answers questions from defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, left, while testifying in his murder trial at the Inglewood Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. Durst is charged with the 2000 murder of Susan Berman inside her Benedict Canyon home. He testified Monday that he did not kill his best friend Berman. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)
That Friday, he said he told his father and brothers he was going to file a missing person report, but claimed they thought it was a bad idea because it would generate negative headlines about them. At the time, the Dursts were accused of hosting brothels in their hotels.
“Dad said he could see the headline in the New York Post: ‘Porn King Durst daughter-in-law gone missing,’” he said.
He also claimed his wife had been fabricating allegations of abuse against him in the belief that she would get more money if they got divorced.
Robert Durst has pleaded not guilty to murder in Berman’s death.
With Durst on the witness stand, DeGuerin asked him if he killed Berman or if he knew who did. He answered “no” to both.
Earlier in the day, Durst testified that he had seen her partying hard with cocaine and alcohol.
Fox News’ Laura Prabucki and Audrey Conklin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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