Robert Durst, the notorious subject of the HBO docuseries “The Jinx,” who was found guilty last month of first-degree murder and was sentenced earlier this week to life in prison without parole, has been diagnosed with Covid-19, his lawyer told CNN on Saturday.
“We were notified he tested positive, so we’re all very concerned,” Dick DeGuerin, Durst’s lead defense attorney, said in a phone call, but he could not confirm when the diagnosis was made. DeGuerin noted Durst looked unwell during the sentencing on Thursday.
“He looked horrible at sentencing,” the attorney said. “I was really concerned even back then because he was having difficulties breathing, he was having difficulties speaking, worse than he’s ever looked.”
He declined to provide additional information on Durst’s medical condition or whereabouts, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said HIPAA laws prevent them from disclosing information about Durst’s health.
In an earlier statement to the Los Angeles Times, DeGuerin confirmed Durst had been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator.
The attorney added he’s concerned for everyone who has been in close contact with Durst, including every member of his legal team and “particularly the deputy who shepherded him in and out of the courtroom during the entire trial (and) was in close contact with him for a long time.”
DeGuerin said he has not tested positive for the virus and is in the process of getting re-tested, and canceled personal travel plans to avoid close contact with others.
Durst, 78, who has bladder cancer and other physical ailments, was convicted by a jury September 17 of shooting his best friend Susan Berman in 2000 at her Beverly Hills home, hours before she was set to talk to investigators about the mysterious disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, who was last seen in 1982.
McCormack Durst was declared legally dead in 2017. Her body has not been found and no one has been charged in the case.
The eccentric heir to a New York real estate empire, Durst took the stand in his months-long trial and denied killing McCormack Durst and Berman. He said he found Berman on the floor of her bedroom with a fatal gunshot to the back of the head.
But under cross-examination, he testified he would perjure himself if he had killed them. Prosecutors’ questions also prompted Durst to admit he perjured himself five times during the trial.
He was sentenced in a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday. The judge denied a motion from the defense team for a new trial, and the defense said they would appeal the decision.
Durst’s health has deteriorated significantly over the past few years. He has undergone multiple surgeries, including the insertion of a shunt in his head to relieve pressure on his brain.
He was in coronavirus quarantine in jail at the time the jury announced the guilty verdicts, his attorney previously said.