LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Jurors in Robert Durst's Los Angeles murder trial heard an audio recording today of the millionaire New York real estate scion saying ``There it is, you're caught'' and ``killed them all'' while on a restroom break during the filming of an HBO documentary series about him.
As the second day of opening statements drew to a close in Durst's trial for the 2000 execution-style killing of his longtime friend and confidante Susan Berman, the prosecution played the audio recording of Durst, who was still wearing a microphone while using the bathroom during the April 18, 2012, interview that was eventually used in the series ``The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.''
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin noted that Durst said, ``There it is, you're caught,'' even before the bathroom door closed.
Durst subsequently said, ``Killed them all, of course,'' and ``What a disaster'' before leaving the bathroom, according to unedited audiotape played in the courtroom.
The comments came after filmmakers questioned Durst about the similarities in handwriting between a letter he had sent to Berman before her December 2000 killing at her Benedict Canyon home and a so-called ``cadaver note'' that was mailed to Beverly Hills police to advise them about a body at Berman's address, the prosecutor said.
During that interview, Durst denied writing the note, but agreed that Beverly Hills was misspelled in each and that the writing looked very similar.
Prosecutors contend that Durst wrote the note and had originally planned to introduce handwriting evidence in an effort to prove who penned it. Defense attorneys responded with motions in an effort to exclude such evidence from the trial. But in December, the defense team filed a motion admitting that their client had written the note.
Durst's lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, has insisted, however, that the concession is not an admission that Durst killed Berman. The attorney told reporters that he had never publicly admitted or denied that Durst wrote the note.
Durst is accused of killing Berman because she was prepared to speak to New York investigators about the still unsolved disappearance of his first wife, Kathie. Prosecutors contend he is also responsible for the Sept. 28, 2001, killing of Morris Black, who was his neighbor at a boarding home in Texas. Durst was acquitted in Texas of a charge that he murdered Black.
Lewin is set to continue his opening statement Monday, with the eight- woman, four-man jury and 11 alternates also expected to hear next week from the defense before hearing what is expected to be months of testimony.
The prosecutor told the jury that Berman ``sealed her fate'' and that Durst ``decided to kill her'' after she lied to him about being contacted by investigators about the disappearance of his first wife 18 years earlier.
The deputy district attorney said that the circumstantial evidence will show that Durst showed up at Berman's house either late at night on Dec. 22, 2000, or early the following morning.
``He pulled out a 9 millimeter gun and ... executed her,'' Lewin alleged, noting that the 55-year-old victim was shot once in the back of the head and was ``murdered by someone she truly trusted.'' Her friends are expected to testify that she would never have opened her door to a stranger.
Investigators had planned to contact Berman about Kathie Durst's disappearance, but had not yet reached out to her, according to the prosecutor. Durst was unaware that Berman had told others that she had posed as his wife in a call shortly after the woman disappeared to the dean at the medical school that Kathie Durst attended, Lewin said.
Berman had told friends that Durst would be visiting her over the holidays and mileage records for Durst's 1995 Ford Explorer were consistent with the vehicle being driven from Eureka -- near where Durst owned a home -- to Berman's home and then back up to Northern California, the deputy district attorney said.
A forensic pathologist is expected to testify that Berman had been dead for more than 24 hours when a worried neighbor contacted police, and that the gun had been held within an inch of the victim's head when the weapon was fired, according to the prosecutor.
Durst had decided to go into hiding by disguising himself as a mute woman in Galveston, Texas, after authorities launched a new investigation into Kathie Durst's disappearance, Lewin told jurors. He subsequently met Black, a 71-year-old drifter who was living at the same small boarding house as Durst, Lewin said.
Black eventually became ``the only person in Galveston who knew that Bob Durst was Bob Durst,'' Lewin told jurors, calling Black ``a loose end'' for the defendant.
``Morris Black is pressuring Bob Durst to get a house with him,'' the prosecutor said, telling the panel that those were the ``circumstances right before Morris Black is going to be murdered.''
DeGuerin quickly interrupted, ``The jury found him innocent,'' with Lewin countering that he was found not guilty instead of innocent of Black's killing.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Windham then reminded the jurors that Durst was acquitted of murdering Black, but that the facts of the case may be relevant to the trial involving Berman's killing.
The deputy district attorney told jurors that the prosecution will be arguing that what happened to Black was not done in self-defense or an accident and that Durst subsequently dismembered the man's body and dumped the body parts -- without the head -- in Galveston Bay, where they were discovered.
A newspaper containing the address of the boarding house, along with a receipt for the trash bags, was also discovered along with the body parts, Lewin said, telling jurors that Durst then went to work to try to make it appear that Black had moved out of the boarding home.
The prosecutor called it a ``tried and true strategy'' and said Durst had ``done the same thing with Kathie and it worked,'' referring to witnesses' testimony that Durst had discarded his first wife's personal belongings after her disappearance.
The 76-year-old defendant has been behind bars since March 14, 2015, when he was taken into custody in a New Orleans hotel room hours before the airing of the final episode of the HBO series, which examined the 1982 disappearance of Kathie Durst and the killings of Berman and Black.
Durst was tried for Black's death and dismemberment after a nationwide manhunt in which he was located in Pennsylvania, but a jury acquitted him of murder after agreeing with Durst's contention that he had killed his neighbor in self-defense.
The prosecutor told jurors Wednesday that they would hear evidence about all three killings, while noting that the case they were there to decide involves Berman's killing.
Kathie Durst -- who was nine years younger than her husband and had been the victim of domestic violence -- was planning to divorce him and was never seen again after the two took a weekend trip to their lakeside cottage in South Salem, New York, according to Lewin.
The prosecutor said the evidence would show that Durst killed his wife, who had been set to begin a rotation at a pediatric clinic as part of her medical school training.
``Kathie never made it. That was February 1st, 1982. It's now been 38 years,'' Lewin said, telling jurors there was no evidence other than Durst's account that he had taken his wife to the train station to travel back to New York City.
Lewin said jurors will hear about a so-called ``dig note'' found at the South Salem home written by Durst that includes the words town dump, bridge, dig, boat and shovel. In a subsequent interview, Durst said it was his handwriting, but had no idea what it meant.
After jurors left court for the day, the judge scolded the prosecutor for telling jurors that he had advised a police detective not to seek exhumation of Berman's body to try to find potential DNA evidence because he believed they weren't going to find anything and that any evidence might be contaminated.
While denying the defense's motion for a mistrial, the judge warned Lewin to ``kindly remove yourself from the description of the law enforcement efforts.''
``You must stop,'' the judge cautioned the prosecutor. ``I don't approve of that particular mode of storytelling in this instance.''
One of Durst's attorneys, David Chesnoff, said he was concerned that the prosecutor was vouching for what was done in the case and said the issue of DNA on Berman's body is a ``big part of our defense.''
At an earlier court hearing, Chesnoff said there are no fingerprints, DNA, blood, hair samples or eyewitnesses linking his client to the crime. Durst's defense team has long insisted that their client did not kill Berman and does not know who did.
Durst has been long estranged from his real estate-rich family, which is known for ownership of a series of New York City skyscrapers -- including an investment in the World Trade Center. He split with the family when his younger brother was placed in charge of the family business, leading to a drawn-out legal battle.
According to various media reports, Durst ultimately reached a settlement under which the family paid him $60 million to $65 million.