Durst's defense says dismemberment helps prove innocence

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Robert Durst holds a device to read the real time spoken script as he appears in the courtroom of Judge Mark E. Windham as attorney's begin opening statements in the trial of the real estate scion charged with murder of longtime friend Susan Berman, at Los Angeles County Superior Court, Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. Durst's murder trial was delayed more than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

LOS ANGELES – The savage and sloppy manner in which Robert Durst dismembered a man he accidentally killed in Texas helps prove the New York real estate heir didn’t murder his best friend or kill his wife, his lawyer said.

Durst’s amateurish efforts to dispose of the body of Morris Black after fatally shooting him in Galveston in 2001 left a trail of evidence — unlike the clinical crime scene where Susan Berman’s body was found or the absence of clues when his wife vanished, attorney Dick DeGuerin said Wednesday.

A garbage bag floating in Galveston Bay with one of Black’s body parts contained a receipt with Durst’s name on it, blood from the drifter was discovered in his car, and DNA of the man was found at the crime scene in the multimillionaire’s $300-a-month apartment.

“There was clues everywhere. Hundreds of clues,” DeGuerin told jurors in Los Angeles County Superior Court. “Significantly different from whoever killed Susan Berman. Significantly different from the disappearance without a trace of Kathie Durst.”

DeGuerin, who represented Durst in the Texas trial in which he was acquitted of murder after claiming he shot Black in self-defense, is aiming for a repeat in Los Angeles, where Durst is charged with murder in Berman’s fatal shooting in 2000.

While prosecutors are using the killing of Black as evidence that Durst also knocked off Berman in his efforts to avoid prosecution in his wife’s suspected killing in New York in 1982, the defense is trying to use the Texas case to its advantage.

The trial began in March 2020 but was adjourned after six days because of the pandemic. It resumed this week in Inglewood with lawyers making abbreviated opening statements to remind jurors about the evidence.

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin on Tuesday said the three killings are intertwined and Berman and Black were killed to help cover-up the killing of Durst’s wife.