‘He looked awful Thursday, worst I’ve ever seen him. He was having difficulty breathing,’ says attorney
The 78-year-old real estate heir was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday for the first degree murder of his friend Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home.
He was found guilty last month of shooting Ms Berman, 55, in the back of the head in December 2000.
A jury also found him guilty of the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness, which in California carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of early release.
“All we know he’s tested positive for Covid-19, he’s in hospital and on a ventilator,” his attorney Dick DeGuerin told NBC News.
“He looked awful Thursday, worst I’ve ever seen him. He was having difficulty breathing, he was having difficulty speaking.”
The LA Times reports that Durst has been held in a wing of USC Medical Center under the watch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department throughout the trial. It is not clear if he is still in that facility or when or where he became infected with the coronavirus.
There are concerns about the exposure to the virus for others present at the trial in which dozens of people were packed into the courtroom.
A month ago, the day that Durst was convicted by the jury, he was absent from proceedings because he had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.
Durst spent much of the trial in a wheelchair but still engaged in tense exchanges when cross-examined regarding the death of Ms Berman more than 20 years ago.
Prosecutors told his trial that Durst killed his friend because she knew too much about the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst.
Ms Durst’s body has never been found after she disappeared in New York in 1982 and he has never been charged in connection with her death.
The court was told that Ms Berman had provided a false alibi for Durst in 1982 and that he feared she would reveal that to authorities.
Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who presided over the trial and sentenced Durst in Los Angeles County on Thursday, described the murder as “awful and disturbing.”
Durst, who appeared at his sentencing in prison uniform, testified in his own defence for 15 days, with prosecutors telling the jury that he had lied or changed his story multiple times.
The trial took place six years after he appeared on the HBO documentary series The Jinx, where he appeared to confess to multiple killings.
During the filming of the show, Durst was caught on a live microphone muttering to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”