Robert Durst testifies that Susan Berman suggest he hire PR firm after Kathie Durst's 1982 disappearance

Real estate heir Robert Durst on trial for murder

Durst is accused of killing a friend 20 years ago and was recorded saying ‘I killed them all, of course’ in 2015 documentary. Jacqui Heinrich reports.

New York real-estate tycoon Robert Durst testified Wednesday at his Los Angeles murder trial that his friend Susan Berman, who Durst is accused of murdering, suggested he hire a PR firm after his wife, Kathie Durst, disappeared in 1982.

Prior to instances of unflattering reporting following his wife’s disappearance, Durst said he was “getting phone calls” from reporters, and Berman suggested he hire a PR agency.

“I was saying, ‘No comment,’” Durst, 78, said on the stand Thursday for the third time this week in a rare move for a defendant charged with murder. “Susan Berman said that what I should do is hire a PR agency.”

New York real estate scion Robert Durst, 78, answers questions from defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, left, while testifying in his murder trial at the Inglewood Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

Durst had explained earlier in his testimony that some of the initial press covering his wife’s disappearance in the 1980s “related” the story, which he suggested was “gossip” rather than serious reporting, to criticism of his established Manhattan family’s decision to buy property in Times Square that featured pornographic stores, event spaces and other properties, specifically naming The New York Post.

He added that the purpose of his family’s purchases was to “clean” Times Square, which he described as “a pornographic disaster” at the time.

“But in the meantime, if you bought a building and there was an adult bookstore there that had a 10-year lease, you found yourself owning an adult bookstore,” he said.

Durst continued to say that Berman called him after she read the Post’s article, describing her attitude toward the article as, “Poor Bobby, that’s terrible.”

The real estate heir is charged with killing Berman, who was shot in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home in December 2000. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, though prosecutors allege that the millionaire attempted to silence Berman, before she could give police any information regarding his alleged role in Kathie Durst’s vanishing. Police allege that Berman played a role in helping Durst cover up Kathie Durst’s disappearance.

Prosecutors share photo of Robert Durst (left), Susan Berman (middle) and Kathie Durst (right) at Robert Durst’s Aug. 11 murder trial. (Fox News)

Kathie Durst was 29 when she did not return home in 1982, and authorities eventually declared her dead in 2017.

The defendant was also charged with killing his Galveston, Texas, neighbor Morris Black while he was in hiding there after Berman’s disappearance. 

During his 2003 murder trial, he said Black was accidentally killed in a struggle after entering Durst’s apartment with a gun. He admitted to dismembering and disposing of Black’s body. The jury acquitted him of murder.

It took nearly 15 years for police to arrest the New York real estate heir in Berman’s killing and another five to bring him to trial, which was further delayed over the last year due to COVID-19.

The homicide trial involving Berman is ongoing in California, and New York recently reopened its investigation into Kathie Durst’s disappearance. 

Fox News’ Laura Prabucki in Los Angeles contributed to this report as did The Associated Press.

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