LOS ANGELES — Robert Durst testified Tuesday that he would lie to get out of trouble and had lied during sworn testimony in the past, but said he has told the truth during five days of testimony at his murder trial.
The comments during cross-examination Los Angeles County Superior Court immediately threw his credibility into question and exposed the risk of putting a defendant on the witness stand.
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, who had been savoring the prospect of grilling Durst, got him to quickly to acknowledge there are some acts he’d never be honest about.
Asked if he would admit killing Susan Berman, if he had done so, Durst said no.
“If you’ve said you’ve taken an oath to tell the truth but you’ve also just told us that you would lie if you needed to,” Lewin asked, “can you tell me how that would not destroy your credibility?”
“Because what I’m saying is mostly the truth,” Durst said. “There are certain things I would lie about, certain very important things.” Durst said the most important of those things now was whether he killed Berman. He denied doing so, though he admitted sending police a note directing them to her “cadaver,” which he admitted Monday he had always lied about because it made him look culpable.
Durst, 78, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the point-blank shooting of Berman, his longtime confidante, in her Los Angeles home in December 2000. Durst said he found a lifeless Berman lying on a bedroom floor when he showed up for a planned visit.
Prosecutors say Durst silenced Berman as she prepared to speak with New York authorities about the disappearance of his wife, Kathie, in 1982 and how she provided a false alibi for him.
Durst also acknowledged he wouldn’t admit killing his wife, Kathie Durst, if he had. And he wouldn’t admit to murdering his neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas, in 2001 if he had done so.
He’s never been charged with a crime in his wife’s disappearance and has denied killing her. Her body has never been found, but she’s been declared dead.
Durst was acquitted of murder in Black’s death after he testified that he fatally shot the man during a struggle for a gun. He was convicted of destroying evidence for chopping up the man’s body and tossing it out to sea.