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Durst Admits to Killing, Still Found Innocent
November 11, 2003 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Robert Durst Admits to Killing but is found innocent because the jurors didn't think the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Durst intentionally murdered, cut his ex-friend up and then threw the body parts in a lake.
I'm sure the fact that he's got like $9 billion had absolutely nothing to do with it.
But since he's got a history of killing, I suppose they'll just wait for him to "accidentally" kill someone else and then try to dispose of the body without getting caught.
But isn't an accidental killing still prosecutable? Isn't the fact that he admitted to chopping the body up and throwing it in a lake prosecutable?
Are you wondering what ever did happen to his wife too?
posted by fenriq (21 comments total)

here are some other links, that don't require reg.
posted by dabitch at 2:52 PM on November 11, 2003

woops, the last one is a dud. my bad.
posted by dabitch at 2:53 PM on November 11, 2003

meanwhile, durst's kid brother fred continues to slay 'em with his florida-based rock band.
posted by quonsar at 3:04 PM on November 11, 2003

Thanks, dabitch. Fenriq, is that the only link you could find?
posted by jdroth at 3:06 PM on November 11, 2003

Google News
posted by Bonzai at 3:07 PM on November 11, 2003

This trial wasn't for the murder of his wife or her friend, but for the murder of his 71 year old male neighbor. (WashPost article)
posted by onlyconnect at 3:21 PM on November 11, 2003

From what I read the prosecution took a risk and didn't put lesser charges in with the original one. In other words either a slam dunk or nothing.

Disgusting, ain't it?
posted by konolia at 3:24 PM on November 11, 2003

Nope, there are plenty of links as Bonzai pointed out. Sorry about the reg, didn't ask me to do it when I read the story.

And yes, onlyconnect, it was for the murder (or not) of his neighbor. But the guy's obviously got some issues and they have never found his wife.

I do hope they didn't play all their cards because there really isn't any reason I can think of for this nut job to be out on the street.
posted by fenriq at 3:38 PM on November 11, 2003

Damn you quonsar I so wanted be first with a joke about his son Fred.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:08 PM on November 11, 2003

You're right that he admitted he did it. His defense was apparently that it was an accident, resulting from (he said) coming home and finding neighbor in his apartment. Konolia is correct that the prosecution didn't include manslaughter in the charges, which would have allowed the jury to convict for unintended killing. They only put him up on murder, and apparently the jury believed his story of accident/self-defense. Durst just cut up the body because he was afraid of getting caught! Perfectly understandable!!!

posted by onlyconnect at 4:14 PM on November 11, 2003

From my understanding of the case, the prosecution thought he was a moneyless bum, hence a conviction was ensured and there was no reason to risk the jury giving him anything but life. Not so easy to lock up the poor when the poor happen to be living on two mil a year, though.

American Justiceā„¢ at its finest!
posted by Ptrin at 4:51 PM on November 11, 2003

It's just a pipe dream, I know, to wonder what America would be like, and if it would be such a force for stupidity, violence, greed and evil in the world, if the great unwashed American public spent anywhere near as much time thinking about politics and their government and the rest of the world as they do about the latest, greatest and most saturation-mediated shitbeast murderer to come down the pike.

Probably just the damn same. Ah well.

(Are there interesting questions about how money subverts justice here? Well, there are questions, yes, but I'd submit they're not particularly interesting beyond the prurience and titillation factors, particularly when the same questions can be asked about how your nation is run.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:44 PM on November 11, 2003

(and noteably aren't, in the harsh light of day, outside the fringes)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:45 PM on November 11, 2003

(I think stavros just told me to take a shower!)
posted by onlyconnect at 6:56 PM on November 11, 2003

From what I read the prosecution took a risk and didn't put lesser charges in with the original one. In other words either a slam dunk or nothing.

Not really. Since he wasn't charged with the lesser crimes, he can still be prosecuted for them without double jeopardy.
posted by kayjay at 7:23 PM on November 11, 2003

He still faces charges for jumping bail and lead police on a nationwide manhunt; that's a felony. Cutting up the corpse, strangely, is only a misdemeanor, which is why they didn't bother going after him on that. Though it seems he did use his victim's credit card, or tried to.

Well, it seems likely he'll be indicted on the disappearance of his wife two decades ago in NY. That's why he was hiding out in Texas dressed as a bag lady in the first place. Then there's the murder of his gal pal in Los Angeles...
posted by Slagman at 8:25 PM on November 11, 2003

kayjay wrote:
"Since he wasn't charged with the lesser crimes, he can still be prosecuted for them without double jeopardy."

I'm not a lawyer, nor a law student, so excuse me if my ignorance shows, but I'm pretty sure that his acquittal of murder charges immunizes him from retrial for lesser charges of the same act.

This link is a little thick on the legalese, so I'm not entirely sure my interpretation is correct, but I think it backs me up.

Of course, if his victim had any loved ones, then Durst still can be financially ruined via civil suit, a la OJ.
posted by antoine_bugleboy at 10:30 PM on November 11, 2003

I think the fact that it was a jury trial in Southeast Texas also has something to do with it. People here tend to identify with someone defending their home from an intruder, particularly since property crime on Galveston island is a huge problem. The fact that Durst had an extremely powerful lawyer (who's also defending Ken Lay, by they way) and some fancy-pants computer mockups to show his version of the struggle also helped. This area was recently named a "judicial hellhole" because of the sympathetic and uninformed jury pool, among other problems.
posted by pomegranate at 6:09 AM on November 12, 2003

I think the whole trial was worth it if only for this quote:

Mr. Durst said on the stand: "I did not kill my best friend. I did dismember him."
posted by fletchmuy at 10:34 AM on November 12, 2003

acquittal of murder charges immunizes him from retrial for lesser charges of the same act

Right, but killing someone and cutting up their body or evidence tampering are not the same acts.

I really love how people are still innocent until proven guilty in this country. No prejudice based on media reports on MeFi, that's for certain. Maybe he DID do it, maybe OJ did too, so what? They got off and according to our system as it stands, he has had his trial and was not found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, so have a nice day.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:16 PM on November 12, 2003

So let's see: If you shoot someone, chopped up the body and throw it in the bay, you're not guilty. If you hit a homeless person with your car, who then dies while lodged in your windshield, and you dump the body in a park, it's murder.

The only person's word we have for what happened when this event occurred is the word of Durst. How do we know the victim was shot in the face when they were fighting over the gun and not shot in the back of the head? How do we know that it was a fatal shot and not one that could have been survived had he recieved medical attention? We don't ... they never found the head.

Ah, the sweet smell of justice.
posted by Orb at 3:23 PM on November 12, 2003

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