Real-estate heir Robert Durst, who was just sentenced to life in prison for murdering his close friend, has contracted COVID-19 and is on a ventilator, according to his attorney.
“He looked very very ill at sentencing Thursday. He had difficulty speaking, breathing,” the defense lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, told The Daily Beast on Saturday.
“I’m very concerned. We haven’t heard from his doctors.”
Durst was admitted to LAC+USC Medical Center on Friday night just after 10 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's inmate locator.
Durst, 78, whose bizarre life and crimes were the subject of the HBO documentary The Jinx, battled multiple health problems during his Los Angeles trial, which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A jury found him guilty of shooting confidant Susan Berman in 2000, allegedly because she knew too much about the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathie.
DeGuerin said Durst’s prognosis was unclear because he had not been able to speak to the doctors treating him.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen. The doctor we had examine him twice said the trial would be very dangerous to his health, and now he’s got COVID,” he said.
Durst's trial was repeatedly disrupted by the pandemic after it started in March 202o. It resumed in May 2021—the longest adjournment of a case with the same jury in U.S. history, according to Durst’s defense lawyers. He did not attend the verdict reading last month because he was quarantined following a COVID exposure but he was at the sentencing in a wheelchair.
Prosecutors said at the trial that Durst shot Berman point-blank in the back of the head at her Los Angeles apartment, fearing that she would real to authorities how she had helped him evade scrutiny in his wife's disappearance. He admitted to writing an anonymous letter sent to Los Angeles police alerting them to a “cadaver” on the property.
No one was charged with Berman’s death until 2015, when The Jinx aired a recording of Durst muttering that he “killed them all, of course.” Authorities arrested him the day before the series finale aired.
The disappearance of Kathie McCormack Durst has never been solved; Durst has admitted to becoming violent toward her during their marriage but has long denied killing her. Prosecutors in New York are reportedly planning to call a grand jury to consider murder charges against Durst in that case, too.
Durst was also previously charged with the murder of Morris Black, his neighbor in Galveston, Texas, where he hid out int he early 2000s following his wife's disappearance. Durst admitted to cutting up Black's body to dispose of his remains, but argued that the killing had been accidental and in self-defense. He was acquitted in 2003.
He was serving a seven-year sentence on a gun charge when he was arrested in Berman’s murder.