Robert Durst on a ventilator battling COVID-19, his lawyer says

Robert Durst has been placed on a ventilator after contracting COVID-19, his lawyer said Saturday.

Durst, 78, was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday for murdering his close friend, Susan Berman, inside her Benedict Canyon home in 2000. The real estate heir was in “very bad condition” during the sentencing hearing, according to his lead defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin.

“He was having difficulty breathing and he was having difficulty communicating,” DeGuerin said in an email to The Times. “He looked worse than I’ve ever seen him and I was very worried about him.”

DeGuerin confirmed that Durst had been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator. Durst has been held in a wing of USC Medical Center under the watch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department throughout the trial, but it was not immediately clear if he was still in that facility or when or where he became infected with the coronavirus.

Durst, a 78-year-old New York real estate heir, was sentenced to life in prison in a Los Angeles County courtroom on Thursday for the 2000 murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman.

Durst was convicted last month of first-degree murder for shooting Berman in her Los Angeles-area home just before Christmas. Prosecutors alleged he killed her in an effort to silence her, as she was slated to talk to authorities about how she provided a phony alibi for Durst after his first wife vanished in 1982.

Kathie Durst went missing from the couple’s South Salem, N.Y., home and has been declared dead, though her body has never been found. Durst has never been charged in her disappearance.

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Several of the jurors who convicted Durst were present in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down. Durst declined to give a statement at his sentencing.

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