Robert Durst indicted in New York in death of his first wife, Kathie
A New York grand jury returned an indictment Monday against real estate heir Robert Durst charging him with murder in the death of his first wife, Kathie McCormack.
Durst — who was sentenced to life in prison last month for the 2000 murder of his close friend, Susan Berman, in Los Angeles — could now face a second trial in the same place where his bizarre legal odyssey began when McCormack vanished in 1982.
“For nearly four decades there has been a great deal of speculation about this case, much of it fueled by Robert Durst’s own highly publicized statements,” Westchester County Dist. Atty. Miriam Rocah said in a statement. “An indictment is a crucial step in the process of holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions.”
A criminal complaint charging Durst with McCormack’s death was filed on Oct. 19, less than a week after Durst was sentenced to life in prison for Berman’s murder in California.
Robert Durst, 78, will spend the rest of his life in a California prison for the fatal shooting of his longtime confidante, Susan Berman, in 2000.
A grand jury was convened in early October to explore murder charges against Durst in New York, and several of McCormack’s relatives testified during those hearings, according to a person with knowledge of the case who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the case with the media.
A lawyer for the McCormack family declined to comment on the indictment Monday.
A warrant has been issued for Durst’s arrest, and Westchester County authorities will now have to seek the 78-year-old’s extradition from California. A spokeswoman for the Westchester County district attorney’s office declined to comment on extradition proceedings.
Whether Durst is in any condition to travel is another issue — he was placed on a ventilator two weeks ago after contracting COVID-19, according to his now former lead defense counsel, Dick DeGuerin.
Durst was transferred to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s California Health Facility in Stockton on Oct. 27, which “provides treatment to incarcerated people with the most severe or long-term medical needs,” according to Terry Thornton, deputy press secretary for CDCR. Thornton declined to provide an update on Durst’s health, citing state and federal laws governing medical privacy.
DeGuerin had previously said he planned to appeal Durst’s conviction in Los Angeles. The 78-year-old‘s new attorney, Alan Abramson, has not responded to requests for comment from The Times.
McCormack’s vanishing was at the center of the five-month trial that led to Durst’s conviction in California. Prosecutors have long argued Durst shot Berman in the back of the head to cover up McCormack’s disappearance, contending Berman placed a phone call on Feb. 1 that helped obscure the timeline of her vanishing.
Authorities believe that Durst had already killed his wife and hid her remains in the Pine Barrens forests in New Jersey on the day Berman made that phone call.
During last month’s sentencing hearing, several of Berman’s relatives and lead prosecutor John Lewin implored Durst to admit to McCormack’s death and reveal the location of her remains. But Durst declined to speak during the hearing, staring straight ahead impassively throughout the hourlong proceeding.
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