Robert Durst's L.A. Trial Delayed for 3 Weeks Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Millionaire Robert Durst, 76, is on trial for the execution-style murder of his close friend Susan Berman

Robert Durst
Robert Durst. Photo: ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA/Shutterstock

The Los Angeles trial of eccentric New York City millionaire Robert Durst for the murder of his best friend Susan Berman has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark E. Windham, who is presiding over the case, said the trial will be put on hold until April 6. The 12 jurors and 12 alternates in the case were told to return on that day.

The trial started March 4 and is expected to last five months.

The presiding judge of the Superior Court of California had recommended that all civil and criminal trial be continued for at least 30 days.

The eccentric millionaire is accused of the execution-style murder of Berman, who was found dead inside her Beverly Hills home in 2000.

Prosecutors allege that Durst killed Berman, a writer whose father was a Las Vegas mob boss, because she knew too much about the disappearance of his first wife Kathleen, who was last seen alive on January 31, 1982.

Susan Berman and Robert Durst
Susan Berman and Robert Durst. HBO

Prosecutors allege that Berman was not Durst’s only victim, and that he also killed Kathleen and Morris Black, his then-neighbor in Galveston, Texas, in 2001.

Durst was acquitted of Black’s murder when he claimed self-defense, saying Black pointed a gun at him and that Black was killed during a struggle for the weapon.

“When Bob Durst killed Kathie, he killed Susan and Morris as well, because once that happened, once he did that, there was no turning back,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Lewin told jurors last week.“ Bob Durst is a person who is going to protect and take care of Bob Durst.”

More than 100 witnesses are expected to testify during the trial. Those witnesses include Durst’s estranged brother Douglas, HBO’s The Jinx filmmakers Marc Smerling and Andrew Jarecki, and comedian Laraine Newman, a friend of Berman’s.

Durst, 76, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in Berman’s death and has long maintained he had nothing to do with Kathleen’s disappearance.

Berman’s body was found in the bedroom of her home around noon on Dec. 24, 2000, after a neighbor reported that her dogs were loose. She had been fatally shot in the back of the head. Officers determined there was no forced entry or signs of ransacking or a struggle. Her purse, with her ID and her cash inside, was sitting on the kitchen counter.

robert and Kathy durst
Kathie and Robert Durst. HBO

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During opening statements, Lewin said Berman knew her killer and let him inside because Berman was a “paranoid New Yorker” who would have never opened her door to a stranger.

“She was murdered by someone she truly trusted,” said Lewin.

RELATED: Mother of Robert Durst’s Missing First Wife Lived in Fear of Him

For decades, Bob Durst had denied he was ever in Los Angeles around the time of Susan Berman’s slaying. However, in court Tuesday, DeGuerin admitted that he was in Los Angeles and had plans to spend the holidays with her when he found her dead.

“When Bob showed up and found her dead, he panicked,” DeGuerin said. “He wrote the anonymous [cadaver] letter so her body would be found, and he ran. He ran away all of his life.”

DeGuerin said Durst and Berman were close friends and had spent holidays together in the past. “Bob was not happy with his family,” said DeGuerin. “Susie was alone but she and Bob were the closest of friends.”

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