Robert Durst once described dismembering a body ‘the same way you do a chicken’ as prosecutors showed jurors gruesome images of Morris Black’s hacked off limbs during his murder trial in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Prosecutors at his trial also told jurors in Los Angeles that Robert Durst had a ‘hit list’ of people he wanted to kill, including his younger brother, Douglas.
They allege that Robert Durst was angry that Douglas Durst, the chairman of The Durst Organization, was chosen to assume control of the family’s real estate empire.
Robert Durst, the son of New York real estate mogul Seymour Durst, is being tried for the December 2000 slaying of his friend, Susan Berman.
On the second day of his trial on Thursday, prosecutors showed jurors photos of Black’s corpse and headless torso.
They were then shown a video of Durst giving a jailhouse interview in 2015.
Robert Durst (left) looks on during the second day of his murder trial in Los Angeles on Thursday
Durst, the New York real estate heir, is being tried for the murder of Susan Berman, who was found with a gunshot wound to the head in December 2000
In the interview, Durst describes how he cut apart Black’s body using a bone saw.
‘I’ve been told, um, that a surgeon would cut up a body the same way you do a chicken,’ he said in one excerpt.
‘You go into the joint. And you, you cut around the joint.
‘You get rid of all the ligaments. And then, the thing comes out.’
He added in the video: ‘You’re not gonna try to cut through the God-damned bone.’
Jurors Durst’s murder trial today heard a grisly tale of how the millionaire subject of TV’s The Jinx chopped up the body of a neighbor after the two fought over a gun owned by Durst.
Durst was acquitted of the 2001 murder of Morris Black after pleading self defense but at his LA murder trial for the killing of his best friend, Susan Berman, prosecutor John Lewin told the court, ‘Bob Durst killed Morris Black intentionally. We are going to provide evidence that it was not self defense, it was murder.’
Black – whom Durst called ‘cantankerous in the extreme’ – moved in March 2001 into the same Galveston, Texas, appointment complex where Durst was living as a woman and the two became friends.
Durst has pleaded not guilty to killing his close friend of many years, Susan Berman, at her home in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles in 2000 (pictured together)
Black soon discovered that his neighbor was not Dorothy Cines but wealthy real estate heir Robert Durst.
‘Evidence will show that Morris Black was the only person in Galveston who knew that Dorothy Cines was actually Robert Durst,’ said Lewin.
By the summer of 2001, Black was having trouble paying his rent and was facing eviction and he was urging rich Durst to buy a house in Galveston where Black could have a room.
But Durst has other plans.
He intended to give up his apartment and move back to New York and on September 25, he moved into the swanky San Luis resort in Galveston before moving to the Big Apple, the court heard.
Thee days later, Durst returned to his old apartment – allegedly to pick up some marijuana he had hidden in the freezer there – and found an ‘angry’ Black sitting at a table on which there was a yellow sweater.
Then, according to a video clip shown in court, Durst said Black reached under the sweater and pulled out a handgun – which actually belonged to Durst – and pointed it at him.
‘I grabbed the gun and the gun went off and shot him in the side of the face, ‘ Durst added.
Durst said he saw that Black was dead and after sitting for hours trying to figure out what to do, he decided to get rid of the body rather than call police.
‘I’m Robert Durst whose wife disappeared, ‘ he explained.
‘I’m this rich guy from New York. Morris Black is in my apartment, shot with my gun.
‘The police aren’t going to believe me. They’re going to arrest me.’
Photos of a young Robert Durst and Susan Berman are shown during opening statements in the Durst’s murder trial Wednesday
He soon discovered that he couldn’t pick up Black’s dead body because it was too heavy.
‘I wasn’t strong enough. So I was going to have to dismember the body.’
The court heard how Durst drove to a hardware store to buy a bow saw and Moseley plastic garbage bags.
‘Then I got stoned and drink and dismembered the corpse,’ he said in the video clip.
He then put the garbage bags containing the body parts into his SUV and drove around till he found a place in Galveston Bay with deep enough water for the bags to sink in.
‘But they didn’t sink – they floated,’ he added.
The gruesome remains – not including Black’s head, which has never been found – were soon discovered and it didn’t take long for cops to link Durst to the killing.
In one of the garbage bags they found a newspaper with his apartment address on it and in another the receipt from the hardware store.
He was arrested on October 8, 2001, and charged with murder.
Durst, 76, was acquitted of killing Black.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles say that Durst’s killing of Black is part of a pattern of killing anyone who was a threat to expose him.
According to prosecutors, Durst murdered his young wife, Kathie McCormack Durst, in New York in 1982 in order to avoid a divorce.
McCormack’s body has never been found.
Investigators in Westchester County, New York, probing the McCormack case scheduled an interview with Susan Berman, Durst’s good friend from California.
On Christmas Eve, days before her interview, Berman was found dead in her home with a gunshot wound to her head.
The wealthy real estate heir admitted killing and dismembering neighbor Morris Black (pictured) in Texas in 2001 but was acquitted after claiming he acted in self-defense
The Los Angeles Police Department said that Berman’s death has been an open investigation ever since.
The New York real estate heir moved to Galveston shortly after Berman’s dath.
In October 2001, Durst was arrested after police found the dismembered body of Black, 71, his neighbor.
According to prosecutors, Durst killed Black after Black learned that Durst was living undercover in Texas under a false identity.
Durst admitted to killing Black, but claimed he did so in self-defense. He was eventually acquitted of the murder in 2003.
Prosecutors played more of the videotaped interview from 2015 in which Durst describes dismembering Black’s body and then dumping it into Galveston Bay.
‘I decided I’d wait until night. And then, I’d pick it up and carry it out,’ Durst said of Black’s body.
‘And, and then I realized I wasn’t picking up that body and carrying it anywhere.
‘I wasn’t strong enough to do that.’
Durst continued: ‘I could drag it out. But I just couldn’t see, and then, I thought about putting it in a sleeping bag or something and then, dragging the whole thing out.
‘But, good God, that’s ridiculous.’
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said that statement from the interview indicates that Durst killed his estranged wife.
‘When he said, “I’m not taking that body anywhere,” that was a reference to Kathie Durst and how he got rid of that body,’ Lewin told the jurors.
Lewin said that Berman was Durst’s best friend who knew that he killed his wife.
She is even believed to have helped Durst cover up the crime by posing as Kathie Durst during a phone call.
Prosecutors believe that Berman used her knowledge of the crime as leverage over Durst.
It is alleged that after Berman told Durst that she was contacted by investigators from New York who are looking into his wife’s disappearance, that’s when Durst decided to kill her.
‘It was that conversation, Suzie Berman to Bob Durst, that sealed her fate,’ Lewin said.
The prosecutor alleged that Durst traveled to Los Angeles and shot Berman in the back of her head.
When Durst found out in late 2000 that police were reopening the investigation into his wife’s suspicious disappearance 18 years earlier, he ‘went into a panic,’ the jury at his murder trial in Los Angeles heard today.
‘People were going to find me guilty (of killing his wife)’ Durst said in a video interview shown in court.
Investigators have long suspected that he also murdered his first wife Kathie Durst, who disappeared in New York in 1982. Kathie’s body has never been found and Durst has never been charged or convicted of his first wife’s murder (couple above in their wedding photo)
‘Evidence will show that much of the most damning evidence against Durst comes from Mr. Durst’s own mouth,’ Deputy District Attorney John Lewin (right) told the jury
Durst was the subject of the HBO documentary series The Jinx in 2015 (pictured in court) where he was caught on microphone appearing to admit to murder
Durst decided to go into hiding, moving to Galveston, where he rented a small apartment, donned a wig and assumed the identity of a woman called Dorothy Ciner, the name of a woman he knew years earlier.
‘He decided he wanted to blend in as a woman,’ Lewin told the jury of eight women and four men.
‘He didn’t tell anyone in Galveston that he was Robert Durst. He wanted to be invisible.’
Prosecutors also revealed on Thursday that Durst had a ‘hit list’ of people he wanted to kill.
And on that list was his own younger brother Douglas – whom older brother Robert resented since Douglas was chosen over him to take charge of the family finances.
Also on that list, the court heard was Gilberta Adjani, a close friend of Durst’s wife Kathy and a vocal critic of Durst whom she believes to have been behind Kathy’s disappearance.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles allege that Robert Durst had a ‘hit list’ that included his younger brother, Douglas Durst, the famed real estate developer who was chosen to head the family business. Douglas Durst is seen above in New York City in 2017
The hit list was found in a notebook kept and in it was an entry that read ‘What DD (Douglas Durst) is doing to me put me in the same place as what Kathy did to me.’
The notebook was one of several things found in Durst’s rental car when he was arrested for shoplifting in Pennsylvania on November 30, 2001, 45 days after jumping $250,000 bail in Galveston following his arrest for the killing of Morris Black.
His Pennsylvania arrest was bizarre since he allegedly stole a sandwich and band aids from a convenience store – even though he had $500 in his pocket and $37,000 in the rental car, along with two handguns and Morris Black’s drivers license.
In a later video clip played in court, Durst brazenly admitted that once he’d posted his $250,000 bail in Galveston, he intended to run and had no mind to come back to face the murder charge there.
‘Goodbye $250,000, goodbye jail, I’m out, ‘ he said.
‘I’m not going to stay and face murder charges. My neighbor is shot in my apartment with my gun in my apartment and I dismember the body. I wasn’t coming back.
‘Who’s going to believe me?’
Durst, 76, appeared unsteady on his feet as he walked into the courtroom today, dressed in a white shirt, blue-gray jacket and beige pants.
He has pleaded not guilty to brutally murdering his long time best friend Berman at her home in Benedict Canyon in December 2000.
Berman had provided Durst with an alibi for the time in 1982 when Durst’s wife, Kathy, mysteriously vanished from the couple’s home in Westchester County, New York.
Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin appears in court next to the defendant Durst during the opening statements of his trial
Judge Mark Windham presided over the opening statements today at LA Superior Court Airport courthouse
Lewin made his opening statements in front of a screen showing a picture of the crime scene where Berman was murdered
Around the time Durst fled to Galveston in November 2000 to live pretending to be a woman, the wealthy real estate heir was also giving financial help to Berman who was down in her luck and about to be evicted from her rented Los Angeles home, the court heard.
Durst sent her two checks, each for $25,000, said Lewin.
But if Durst thought that would buy Berman’s silence about what really happened to Kathy Durst, all that changes when the cops started reinvestigating Kathy’s disappearance.
In a phone call with Durst, Berman told him that police had contacted her about Kathy’s disappearance, Lewin told the court, and she said to him she was going to tell the cops what she knew.
‘That statement sealed Susan’s fate’ said Lewin who added that Durst ‘decided to kill her because he knew that she was not the best at keeping secrets.’
On December 19 2000, Durst flew to Northern California where he kept a home and a Ford Explorer, in the small town of Trinidad.
On around December 22, Durst drove from Northern California to Berman’s LA home, murdered her, then dove back to Northern California.
Mileage taken from services on the Explorer showed 1,150 miles travel and Durst caught a redeye flight from San Francisco to New York the night of December 23.
Prosecutors contend that Berman – who was expecting a visit from Durst over Christmas – let him into her home when he arrived there the evening of December 22.
‘She turned around, Durst pulled out a 9mm handgun and shot her point blank In the back of the head,’ Lewin told the court.
Her body was not found til December 24.