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Just Days after Sentencing, Convicted Murderer Robert Durst Is on Ventilator after Contracting COVID-19: Report

Robert Durst appears at an Oct. 14, 2021 sentencing hearing in Los Angeles.  He was sent to prison for life and without the possibility of parole for the murder of Susan Berman in 2000.

Robert Durst appears at an Oct. 14, 2021 sentencing hearing in Los Angeles.  He was sent to prison for life and without the possibility of parole for the murder of Susan Berman in 2000.

A defense attorney for real estate heir Robert Durst said the convicted murderer was on a ventilator and in “very bad condition” on Saturday. That’s according to an email the lawyer sent to the Los Angeles Times.

Attorney Dick DeGuerin told the newspaper that Durst, 78, “was having difficulty breathing and he was having difficulty communicating.”

“He looked worse than I’ve ever seen him and I was very worried about him,” the lawyer reportedly continued.

Durst was sentenced on Oct. 14 — just two days prior to the revelation — in the slaying of his close friend Susan Berman. A jury agreed a prosecution theory that Durst murdered Berman on Dec. 23, 2000 because Berman knew that Durst had previously murdered his wife Kathie Durst in January 1982. Durst has not been charged or convicted his wife’s disappearance and presumed death, though New York prosecutors are reportedly on the cusp of convening a grand jury to look into the cold case.

DeGuerin confirmed that his client remained hospitalized — just as he had been during the lengthy and at times testy court proceeding which recently resulted in his conviction.

“Durst has been held in a wing of USC Medical Center under the watch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department throughout the trial,” the Times noted, “but it was not immediately clear if he was still in that facility or when or where he became infected with the coronavirus.”

Law&Crime reached out to lead prosecutor John Lewin in an attempt to confirm the report late Saturday afternoon. He declined to comment about the situation.

DeGuerin, however, confirmed some of the details with Law&Crime via email on Saturday evening Eastern time.

“I can confirm that we were notified that Mr. Durst has tested positive for Covid,” the defense attorney wrote. “Also, I was very concerned about his condition on Thursday in court. He had difficulty breathing and speaking and looked worse than I’ve ever seen him. His condition has steadily deteriorated during the trial, as our medical consultant predicted. I’m also concerned for anyone who came in contact with him Thursday, particularly the defense team and court personnel.”

DeGuerin added that he cancelled his own personal plans this weekend and was planning to secure a COVID test just to be safe — considering he had been seated next to Durst just two days’ prior. The defense counselor added that he was vaccinated.

DeGuerin told attorney and host Michel Bryant on the Law&Crime Network on Friday that Durst was in seriously declining health and would likely not have long to live.  That conversation is embedded below.

DeGuerin more broadly complained that it was unfair for prosecutors to pile evidence onto his client from what he called unrelated matters in Houston, Texas, involving the death of Morris Black in Sept. 2001.  Durst was convicted of dismembering Black’s body but was acquitted of killing the man.  Durst successfully claimed he shot Black in the head in self defense over a struggle for a gun.

The defense attorney called the HBO film “The Jinx” an example of “very good entertainment,” but he asserted it was “not a documentary” and suggested it may have poisoned the jury pool.

“Most of the jurors had either seen part of it or had heard about it,” DeGuerin said of the popular presentation which renewed interest in Durst’s various alleged criminal acts.  “We were faced with dispelling an Emmy-award-winning entertainment show in addition to fighting the evidence.”

Editor’s note: this report, which began as a developing story, has been updated significantly since its initial publication.  It has also been updated to correct an accidental misspelling. 

(Photo by Myung J. Chun-Pool/Getty Images)

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.