Robert Durst, the New York real estate heir, is on a ventilator and has tested positive for COVID-19 mere days after he was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for the murder of a close friend. The 78-year-old was already in “very bad condition” during his sentencing hearing, his lead defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said. “He was having difficulty breathing and he was having difficulty communicating,” DeGuerin said. “He looked worse than I’ve ever seen him and I was very worried about him.”
Durst had been convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court last month of first-degree murder for shooting Susan Berman in the back of the head in December 2000. The death had long been a mystery until Durst decided to participate in an HBO documentary that unearthed new information and a stunning confession that helped lead to his conviction. The prosecutor in the case ended up using Durst’s own words against him in the trial.
Dozens of people were in the courtroom when Durst was sentenced earlier this week and it’s unclear whether anyone else who was there has contracted the coronavirus. DeGuerin said that although he believes Durst was vaccinated he didn’t know if he had received a booster shot.
Durst’s poor health was repeatedly an issue during the trial in which he was largely seated in a wheelchair. The tycoon had been briefly hospitalized in June but the judge rejected numerous requests to delay the trial due to his health woes. There had also been COVID-19 scares before. Durst was not in the court when he was convicted, for example, because he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.