I spent most of yesterday traveling, so I’m catching up this morning with some of what I missed in the ongoing trials and tribulations of professional junk sack Robert Durst, and in case you’re behind, here’s the latest development on Durst, The Jinx and the docuseries’ director, Andrew Jarecki:
— Yesterday, Robert Durst was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Susan Berman, a murder he essentially confessed to on the series finale of The Jinx after failing to realize that he had a hot mic while visiting the bathroom. Because of the premeditated nature of the murder, and the fact that Berman was likely a witness who could’ve testified in the investigation of the murder of Durst’s wife, Kathleen Durst, Robert may face the death penalty. However, he is 71 and likely would not survive through the years’ long appeals process in death penalty cases. Damnit.
— Even if Durst were to somehow escape the murder rap this time, he’s at least going to be convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, a charge that’s already been brought against him.
— Meanwhile, LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese is claiming that the arrest of Durst in New Orleans on Sunday night had nothing to do with Andrew Jarecki’s series. Albanese seemed to suggest that the arrest was made based on a completely independent investigation, but that the timing of the arrest — before the series finale of The Jinx aired — was based on fears that Durst would leave the country in light of the revelations in the finale.
— Director Andrew Jarecki is being sketchy about the timeline of events. It felt manipulative, and given what was going on in the real world with Durst’s case at the time, it also felt more immediate than it actually was.
In reality, that second interview with Durst took place two years ago, and according to Jarecki, the bathroom confession was only “recently” found (though, he claims he handed it over to authorities months ago). But all the timeline manipulation and the editing tricks were in service of telling a compelling story, so it’s OK, right?
This is what, perhaps, put Sarah Koenig and Serial at a disadvantage: She was editing and adding to that series week-to-week, while Jarecki has now had a couple of years to manipulate all the footage into a fictional timeline that served the drama. The confession in the bathroom, in all likelihood, did not come at the very end of their last interview. They probably continued to speak afterwards. There was also clearly some fudging around the timeline of the second interview: The documentary suggests that it became before Durst’s second arrest in 2013 (for violating the restraining order his brother took out against him), when it’s now clear that the interview took place after.
That may muddy the waters, and make the documentary seem less honest, but I personally don’t think it changes the truth, which is that Durst is a triple-murdering sociopath who deserves to fry.
Anyway, the Times has an overview of the timeline, which just confuses matters even more.
— According to this piece, Jarecki had no legal obligation to hand over evidence to the police (his moral obligation is another matter entirely).
— But what about that confession? Can it be used in court? Probably, and the fact that the police weren’t involved in obtaining it, makes it even more likely. The Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to private actions, only governmental, so there it’s not likely to be inadmissible based on Fourth Amendment protections. To that extent, withholding information from authorities may actually help the case against Durst. (via The WSJ)
— Here’s a letter that Douglas Durst sent Andrew Jarecki earlier this year, which is kind of fascinating. Douglas is clearly as asshole, too (click to embiggen):
— Whatever happened to Debra Lee Charatan, the second wife of Robert Durst, anyway? As to that, I don’t really know. They were married in secret (no one even knew they were married until Durst’s murder trial in Galveston), and it was clearly a marriage of convenience. Durst used Charatan to essentially help him operate as a fugitive and as a confidante (under the marriage privilege, she didn’t have to testify against Durst), and in exchange, she would get his inheritance, a benefit to both her and Robert, who didn’t want it to go to his family. The last news Charatan — who clearly didn’t live with Durst — was the sale of her Manhattan apartment for $4 million in November 2014.
So far as we know, they are still married, but I’m not even certain of that anymore. She disappeared at the end of the documentary.