Jury selection to begin in trial of former millionaire accused of murder
(08/24/03) YONKERS - Robert Durst goes to trial this week in Texas. He is the former Westchester County millionaire caught in a long and bizarre series of criminal accusations, including murder. Durst, 60, is being tried for killing and dismembering his neighbor in a cheap rooming house in Texas. This trial could also provide clues to more cases including the disappearance of Durst's wife two decades ago.
The jury selection begins with a highly sophisticated questionnaire this week. Opening arguments could begin in the Morris Black murder trial by the middle of September.
Durst moved into a cheap rooming house in Galveston, Texas. There, he admitted killing his 71-year-old neighbor Morris Black, while he led a life as a part time cross-dresser and a sometime mute. Durst was arrested for the crime only after he was caught in Pennsylvania, on store surveillance tape, shoplifting a sandwich. Durst has admitted to the murder, calling it self defense from a nasty neighbor. But Durst did not explain why Black's body was dismembered. Hardware store receipts were traced to Durst for plastic bags used to throw the body parts in Galveston Bay. Every body part but the head was recovered.
As the trial gets underway, the Durst case goes beyond just this murder. Some question whether the victim, Morris Black, played any part in the disappearance of Durst's wife Kathie from their South Salem home back in 1982. Kathie was reported to be about to divorce a violent and abusive Durst when she disappeared. The Kathie Durst disappearance case has now been reopened, but Robert Durst is not yet being called an official suspect.
Durst is also suspected of executing a novelist who was said to be his best friend. He is also newly suspected in the disappearances of two teenage girls in California in the late 90s.