For the first time in 2o years, billionaire real estate developer Douglas Durst was in the same room with his nightmare of a brother, Robert Durst, on Monday.
And he made it clear there is no love lost between them.
“He’d like to murder me,” Douglas Durst told jurors in Robert Durst’s Los Angeles trial, adding that he so feared his brother that he hired a security team to protect himself.
The two heirs fell out in the 1990s over the family estate. Douglas went on to run the Durst Organization, a premier, century-old commercial real estate firm that built skyscrapers like One World Trade Center.
Robert, meanwhile, led a life so scandalous that it was the subject of an HBO documentary series, The Jinx, which is likely to play a key role in his murder case.
He was acquitted of murder two decades ago despite admitting he killed and dismembered his elderly neighbor, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas—where he was living as a mute woman while authorities reopened an investigation into the disappearance of his first wife, Kathie.
Now he is standing trial on charges he shot and killed a close friend, Susan Berman, in 2000 because she allegedly knew too much about what happened to Kathie.
As prosecutors lay out the tangled case, Douglas Durst, 76, was brought to the witness stand to help convince jurors that his brother killed his wife and then murdered the friend who gave him a bogus alibi.
The New York billionaire said he did not relish the opportunity to testify even though, by his own admission, Robert had tormented him even when they were kids.
“He treated me miserably,” Douglas Durst said, according to the Associated Press. “He would fight with me at every chance. He would embarrass me.”
But prosecutors threatened to subpoena Douglas, so he appeared in court to recount a long-ago conversation he had with Kathie in which she said she planned to divorce Robert.
He also testified about the call in which Robert told him that Kathie, a medical student, was missing.
“His tone was very neutral,” the brother told jurors. “There was no great anxiety in his tone. It seemed a little strange.”
Robert Durst denies killing Kathie, who was declared legally dead even though her body was never found. Her death, along with the slayings of Black and Berman, was the focus of The Jinx.
Among the bombshells in the show was evidence that Durst had written the anonymous so-called “cadaver note” that tipped off police to Berman’s body at her Beverly Hills home. (Durst later admitted he wrote it but says he didn’t kill Berman and just found her body when he stopped by to visit.)
Durst was also caught on a hot mic blurting out “What the hell did I do?... Killed them all, of course.” (It has since been revealed that the damning audio was edited together out of order.)
Durst was arrested just before the last episode aired, in a New Orleans hotel room, on a murder warrant. He pleaded guilty to unrelated gun charges and has been locked up ever since.
His trial began before the pandemic, then went on hiatus, and resumed this month. Durst, 78, has been dealing with several illnesses, including bladder cancer, and denied in court on Monday that he is playing up his health problems.
His head had been shaved over the weekend, exposing a scar from a brain ailment, but Durst said that was the only haircut he could get in jail.
“I am not seeking sympathy from the jury,” he said.