Last month, TV viewers were captivated by HBO's true crime documentary series,
The Jinx, and its enigmatic subject, real estate heir and three-time alleged murderer,
Robert Durst. Among them was Attorney Steven Brill, who has now lent his
legal insight on the series' shocking, final "confession" to
In the final moments of
The Jinx, Robert Durst exits an interview in which series director Andrew Jarecki
confronts him with handwriting evidence that implicates Durst in the 2000
Los Angeles murder of his friend Susan Berman. Durst excuses himself and
heads into bathroom and—forgetting that he's still mic'd
from the interview—mutters to himself that he's "caught"
and that he "killed them all, of course."
While it made for riveting television, Attorney Brill is hesitant declare
that Durst's legal fate is sealed by the recording. In his Huffington
Post piece, "Durst's Apparent Confession to Murder: To Be or
Not to Be," Attorney Brill does acknowledge that California prosecutors
will have grounds to make the bathroom recordings admissible during Durst's
upcoming trial, largely due to the fact that they did not happen while
Durst was in custody or while he was coerced. The recordings also do not
violate his 5th Amendment rights to remain silent.
However, Durst's defense may also have grounds to completely suppress
the recordings, as well. Most glaringly, Durst's confession is not
a clear and direct statement, but rather a series of disjointed thoughts.
It could easily be argued that he wasn't speaking for himself in this
moment of stress, but rather fearfully imagining what others thought of him.
Even more substantial grounds for suppression could be found in California
Evidence Code §352. This statute allows the court to bar the admission
of evidence that could cause "undue prejudice," confusion, or
a misleading of the jury. Attorney Brill believes that this code could
provide powerful means for Durst's defense to exclude the bathroom
Durst's Fate Yet to be Seen
A judge will eventually rule on whether or not
The Jinx recordings can or cannot be used in the case against Durst. Attorney Brill
believes, however, that both sides of the court will fight ferociously
over the admissibility of those tapes and predicts, ultimately, that Durst's
fate could depend on whether or not a jury hears them.
Read Attorney Brill's full piece on Robert Durst, "Durst's
Apparent Confession to Murder: To Be or Not to Be" at
Huffington Post here.
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