Robert Durst’s Request For A Mistrial Is Denied By Judge
Judge Mark Windham has denied real estate heir Robert Durst’s request for a mistrial on Tuesday for the murder case of Susan Berman. The case has been delayed for more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic just days after it had originally began. Durst and defense attorneys are still pushing for a mistrial and claim that their health will be impaired if the court hearing proceeds.
Defense attorney David Chesnoff had argued that his client Durst would not have competent legal representation because his lawyers had been advised to not go to court due to their age and underlying health issues. Durst himself has also suffered from many health problems and would be at high risk of contracting the coronavirus. Chesnoff pointed out that it would also be dangerous for jurors, court staff, prosecutors and spectators.
He said by phone in the hearing on Tuesday, “The reason Mr. Durst hasn’t gotten COVID is because of isolation. Moving him from the jail where they have him in complete isolation to a courthouse where he could contract it — it would be ironic if he had spent all this time avoiding a disease only to be impacted by it because of a rush back to trial.”
The trial is scheduled to be held in an Inglewood courthouse which has large rooms in order for those present to practice social distancing. Windham will hold a hearing to discuss any further delays on July 17, but as of right now the trial will proceed on July 27.
Windham expressed that he did not want to go through the lengthy jury process again if a mistrial was called. He said, “I do not want to go with another jury selection process. If we have to wait, we’ll wait.”
Durst is under trial for the murder of Berman who he allegedly shot in the head in her Los Angeles home in 2000. While Durst has denied any involvement in Berman’s death, his lawyers have acknowledged that Durst had sent a note to police with the word “cadaver” written on it, directing them to Berman’s body. The prosecution alleged that Durst had killed Berman because she knew he had killed his wife Kathleen Durst in 1982 and feared she would tell police. Katheen’s body has never been found, but she was legally declared dead. Durst has never been charged with any crimes relating to Kathleen.