This podcast is a recorded reading of a Crime Story article published last year during the pre-trial hearings in the California murder case of the People vs. Robert Durst.
Original piece 1:40pm, December 31, 2019: In a New York Times article posted to the Times website this afternoon, Charles V. Bagli reports that Robert Durst, whose trial for the murder of Susan Berman is scheduled to begin in February, now admits to having written the note notifying the Beverly Hills Police that there was a “cadaver” at the address of the home belonging to Berman. Officers following up on that note discovered Berman’s lifeless body. The story became an international sensation after Durst participated in the breakout HBO True Crime documentary series, The Jinx.
The Times piece states that “[Durst’s] defense lawyers have repeatedly tried to block testimony from forensic document examiners who say the handwriting on the note matches Mr. Durst’s. The judge in the case also rejected the lawyers’ attempt to identify Ms. Berman’s personal manager as the author of the note and the killer. Then, in a court document filed on Christmas Eve, the lawyers suddenly reversed course, acknowledging that Mr. Durst was the author of the note.”
The piece also quotes Durst attorney, Dick Deguerin as saying that “Bob didn’t kill Susan Berman, and he doesn’t know who did.”
Its worth reading the whole Times article for all of the nuanced significance and contradictions inherent in this admission.
We will have more on these and other events relate to the Durst trial in the coming weeks.
UPDATE 3:30pm: Crime Story has obtained the public documents referenced in Charles V. Bagli’s New York Times article. They were filed as part of a series of stipulations made by both the prosecution and the defense in the Durst case.
Notably, in the stipulation the defense also acknowledges that Durst wrote the “dig” note, a list of words on a piece of paper found in garbage on a property near the Westchester County weekend home that Durst shared with his first wife, Kathleen, shortly after she suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. The note reads: “town dump, bridge, dig, boat, other, shovel or ?”
Also notable in the filing documents is that the defense reserves the right to withdraw these stipulations in any future proceedings if Judge Mark Windham’s rulings allowing these items into evidence are overturned.
Below is the full text of the stipulation along with a gallery of the relevant document images.
Stipulation 44 (Lloyd Cunningham, Linton Mohammed and John Paul Osborne):
Defendant, through his attorneys. vigorously objected to the introduction of evidence at trial from a forensic document examiner identifying Defendant as the writer of certain documents. Defendant made these objections pursuant to various provisions of the Evidence
Code, as well as under the California and United States Constitutions. Over Defendant’s repeated and strenuous objections, the Court has admitted this evidence at this trial. Given the fact that this evidence will be admitted in this trial, and without waiving any later appellate
objections or remedies regarding the Court’s rulings regarding the admissibility of this evidence, the defense has made a strategic decision to stipulate to this evidence. Given this precondition, the parties enter in the following stipulation for use at trial. It is stipulated between the parties as follows (the preceding paragraph will not be read to the jury. but is included herein at Defendant’s request for the record in the event of an appeal):
The parties stipulate that Defendant wrote the documents attached hereto as Exhibit 4 (commonly referred to as the “Cadaver Note and Envelope”).
The parties further stipulate that Defendant wrote portions of the document attached hereto as Exhibit 5 (commonly referred to as the “Dig Note”). With respect to Exhibit 5, Defendant wrote the portions ofthe document which
are handwritten The hand printed portions which appear in the margins to the right of the handwritten list were written by Tom Hughes after Mr. Hughes found the document in the bedroom trash can of Defendant’s South Salem home. Tom Hughes also circled the word “Dig” on Exhibit 2 after he found the document.
You can catch up on all of the Crime Story reporting on this case in these seven pieces. Two Hearings: Robert Durst and Armon Nelson, While Robert Durst Flips Through Photos, Robert Durst Fades Away, Robert Durst and the Inequity of Judicial Time, Robert Durst’s Warrior in Court, Robert Durst Stares into the Camera, and Robert Durst’s Lawyer Gets a Compliment. We also discuss the story at great length in the second episode of Jury Duty, our new Podcast series, which you can find here.