(Reuters) – Robert Durst’s defense lawyers on Thursday portrayed the multimillionaire real estate heir as a sick old man who was badgered by prosecutors during his California murder trial, and referenced Durst’s claim he is on the autism spectrum.
The defense appealed directly to the jury in closing arguments at Los Angeles County Superior Court, aiming to reinforce the image of a frail, 78-year-old cancer survivor testifying from a wheelchair, not the more robust man he was in 2000 when his best friend Susan Berman was murdered.
“I think that you can see from Bob Durst’s 14 days on the witness stand that his compass doesn’t point north. He’s unusual. And I don’t think you need a psychiatrist to tell you that,” lead defense attorney Dick DeGuerin told the jury.
While testifying in his own defense, Durst said doctors have told him he is on the autism spectrum, but DeGuerin did not call an expert witness on the subject.
The trial is nearing its conclusion six years after Durst’s apparent confession to multiple killings in the HBO television documentary series “The Jinx.”
Durst is accused of murdering Berman at her Beverly Hills home, where she was shot in the back of the head in 2000. Prosecutors say he killed Berman to cover up what she knew about the disappearance of his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst in 1982.
The closing statement was DeGuerin’s chance to counter prosecutors who grilled Durst for nine days of cross examination, exposing multiple times Durst lied or changed his story over the years.
Durst, who was also acquitted of murdering his Texas neighbor in 2001, famously appeared to confess during a break from shooting “The Jinx,” when he was caught on a hot microphone in the bathroom saying to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
DeGuerin attempted to cast doubt on the audio by arguing it was edited and had been kept by the filmmakers for years before it was turned over to the authorities.
Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian concluded the prosecution’s closing statement earlier on Thursday, saying Durst “has gotten away with murder for too long.”
“He has been running from the truth for 39 years,” Balian said. “Don’t let him run from the truth any more.”
Jury deliberations are expected to begin on Tuesday, Judge Mark Windham said.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)