Jury in California found Robert Darst, a multi-millionaire heir to a real estate tycoon, guilty of killing his best friend Susan Berman in 2000, the first manslaughter conviction for a man suspected of killing three people in three states in 39 years.
Darst, 78, of fragile health, is likely to die in prison as jurors also found him guilty of waiting and killing a witness, which carries a life sentence.
The trial comes six years after Darst apparently confessed to a HBO documentary series in which Darst monologues in the bathroom. “What the hell did I do? I killed them all, of course”, without realizing that his microphone was on.
Darst, who was in jail at the time of the trial, did not appear in court to announce the verdict: he was in solitary confinement after contacting a COVID-19 patient.
Judge Mark Widham decided to read the verdict in Darst’s absence. Speaking later to lawyers on both sides, he described the case “The most special trial I have ever seen or heard of”. His sentence will be announced on October 18.
In his closing remarks, prosecutor John Lewin described Darst as a “narcissistic psychopath” who killed Berman in an attempt to cover up the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Darst, in 1982 in New York.
Darst was tried only for killing Berman in California, but prosecutors say he killed three people: his missing wife, Berman, and a Texas neighbor who discovered his identity while Darst was hiding from authorities.