Robert Durst’s family helped cover up disappearance, murder of wife: lawyers
Real estate heir Robert Durst on trial for murder
Durst is accused of killing a friend 20 years ago and was recorded saying ‘I killed them all, of course’ in 2015 documentary. Jacqui Heinrich reports.
Robert Durst’s brother and father helped cover up the 1982 disappearance and murder of the real estate heir’s wife, Kathie Durst, lawyers for the missing woman said Monday — repeating claims originally lodged in a 2019 lawsuit.
“Attorneys representing Kathleen Durst’s family say #RobertDurst brother Douglas & father Seymore aided in the cover-up of Kathleen’s disappearance and murder,” Law & Crime executive producer Cathy Russon tweeted.
The renewed accusations by the law firm Abrams and Fensterman comes as Robert Durst’s Los Angeles trial in the murder of his longtime confidant, Susan Berman, is set to resume after a 14-month delay.
A 2019 lawsuit filed by Kathie’s sister, Carol Bamonte, accused the wealthy Durst family of conspiring “to protect [Robert] Durst and The Durst Organization from any connection to Kathie’s disappearance and murder.”
The suit claimed Kathie was set to expose illegal business dealings within the family’s real estate company, the Durst Organization, prompting Seymour Durst to direct his son Robert Durst to “take care of this problem.”
On Monday, Robert Abrams, who represents Kathie Durst’s family, claimed he had new information to bolster the allegations — but refused to share it after the Westchester District Attorney announced it was reopening the cold case into her death.
In a statement, the Durst family said they were “appalled” by the claims.
“Mr. Abrams is a member of the cottage industry that seeks to personally profit off of Robert’s victims, even if it involves disrupting the prosecution of the murder of Susan Berman,” Jason Barowitz, a spokesman for the family, told The Post.
“The truth is that the Durst family is appalled by Robert’s actions and has cooperated with authorities to help ensure justice is served,” Barowitz said. “These allegations are false and have been repeatedly debunked.”
In court Monday, Judge Mark Windham denied a motion by Durst’s lawyers to delay the trial in Berman’s death — although he said he would schedule a hearing in future to consider evidence regarding his health.
Durst attorney Dick DeGuerin claimed his elderly client, who was not in court, needs “urgent hospitalization” and better care than can be provided by “medical students” in jail.
DeGuerin said Durst suffers from a multitude of ailments, including pancreatic cancer and heart, liver and lung disease.
“This is something that’s very serious,” he told the judge. “The doctor simply says, ‘The question is not just whether he can endure the rigors of a trial. The question is whether he can survive at all.'”
But lead prosecutor John Lewin debunked the claims, saying Durst is receiving proper medical care behind bars — with no guarantee, his health would improve if the trial were delayed for several months.
Durst, 78, has been jailed since 2015 on charges he shot and killed his friend Susan Berman in her Los Angeles home in 2000.
Prosecutors contend that the kooky real estate heir shot Berman in the back of the head because she was about to give information to authorities on Durst’s missing wife, Kathie.
Kathie Durst vanished from the couple’s New York home in 1982, and authorities believe Durst killed her — although he has never been charged with her death. Her body was never found.
Durst was also accused of killing his neighbor, Morris Black, in Texas while he was in hiding — but was acquitted after claiming self-defense.
His trial in Berman’s death began last year, with opening arguments and two days of testimony in a Los Angeles courtroom.
However, the case was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed resumption of the trial would be unprecedented, with jurors already seated and having heard testimony before being called back into court.
The panel of 23 jurors, including 11 alternates, was whittled down from a pool of 400, and lawyers for Durst argue that the long layover makes it impossible for the jury to be impartial given the high-profile nature of the case.
The defense team also asked for a delay in the trial due to Durst’s health issues, including a battle with cancer.
However, the judge has vowed to try to push ahead and is due to question the jurors on Monday before resuming the proceedings on Tuesday.
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