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Real estate heir Robert Durst found guilty of murdering friend Susan Berman – Global News

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A Los Angeles jury convicted Robert Durst on Friday of murdering his best friend 20 years ago in a case that took on new life after the New York real estate heir participated in a documentary that connected him to the slaying linked to his wife’s 1982 disappearance.

Durst, 78, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Susan Berman, who was shot at point-blank range in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home in December 2000 as she was prepared to tell police how she helped cover up his wife’s killing.

Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, was Durst’s longtime confidante who told friends she provided a phony alibi for him after his wife vanished.

Prosecutors painted a portrait of a rich narcissist who didn’t think the laws applied to him and ruthlessly disposed of people who stood in his way. They interlaced evidence of Berman’s killing with Kathie Durst’s suspected death and the 2001 killing of a tenant in a Texas flophouse where Robert Durst holed up while on the run from New York authorities.

Read more:
Robert Durst of ‘The Jinx’ struck fear in his wife before she disappeared in the ’80s: witness

Durst was arrested in 2015 while hiding out in a New Orleans hotel on the eve of the airing of the final episode of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” in which he was confronted with incriminating evidence and made what prosecutors said was a confession.

Durst could be heard muttering to himself on a live microphone in a bathroom: “There it is. You’re caught.”

Durst’s decision to testify in his own defense — hoping for a repeat of his acquittal in the Texas killing — backfired as he was forced to admit lying under oath, made damning admissions and had his credibility destroyed when questioned by the prosecutor.

The conviction marks a victory for authorities who have sought to put Durst behind bars for murder in three states. Durst was never charged in the disappearance of his wife, who has never been found, and was acquitted of murder in Galveston, Texas, where he admitted dismembering the victim’s body and tossing it out to sea.

The story of Durst, the estranged scion of a New York real estate developer, has been fodder for New York tabloids since his wife vanished. He provided plot twists so numerous that Hollywood couldn’t resist making a feature film about his life that eventually led to the documentary and discovery of new evidence in Berman’s slaying.

Durst ran from the law multiple times, disguised as a mute woman in Texas and staying under an alias at a New Orleans hotel with a shoulders-to-head latex mask for a presumed getaway. He jumped bail in Texas and was arrested after shoplifting a chicken sandwich in Pennsylvania, despite having $37,000 in cash — along with two handguns — in his rental car.

He later quipped that he was “the worst fugitive the world has ever met.”

Read more:
Robert Durst, subject of ‘The Jinx’, pleads not guilty to murder in LA

Durst escaped close scrutiny from investigators when his wife disappeared. But his troubles resurfaced in late 2000 when New York authorities reopened the case.

His lawyer told him to be prepared to be charged in the case, and he fled a life of luxury to Galveston, Texas, where he rented a cheap apartment as “Dorothy Ciner,” a woman he pretended couldn’t speak. He eventually dropped the disguise after mishaps that included walking into a men’s restroom and igniting his wig at a bar while lighting a cigarette.

Just before Christmas, he testified that he traveled to LA to visit Berman for a “staycation” with plans to see some of the tourist sites.

Durst, who had long denied ever being in LA at the time of Berman’s death, testified at trial that he found her dead on a bedroom floor when he arrived.

Berman, a writer who had been friends with Durst since they were students at the University of California, Los Angeles, had serious financial problems at the time. Durst had given her $50,000, and prosecutors suggested she was trying to leverage more money from him by telling him she was going to speak with the cops.

Nine months after her death, Durst killed his Galveston neighbor Morris Black, in what he said was either an accident or self-defense. Durst said he found Black, who he had become friends with, in his apartment holding Durst’s .22-caliber pistol.

Durst was acquitted after testifying the 71-year-old was killed in a struggle for the gun. Durst then chopped up Black’s body and tossed it out to sea. He was convicted of destroying evidence for discarding the body parts.

After the trial and the ghastly evidence of the dismemberment, Durst found he was a pariah, he said. Despite an estimated $100 million fortune, he was turned away by multiple condominium associations and said the Los Angeles County Museum of Art wouldn’t take his money unless he donated anonymously.

Durst thought a 2010 feature film based on his life, “All Good Things,” starring Ryan Gosling as him and Kirsten Dunst as Kathie, had been largely accurate and painted a sympathetic portrait, despite implicating him in three killings. He only objected that he was depicted him killing his dog — something he would never do.

He reached out to the filmmaker and agreed to sit for lengthy interviews for a documentary. He encouraged his friends to do the same and gave the filmmakers access to boxes of his records.

He came to deeply regret his decision after “The Jinx” aired on HBO in 2015, calling it a “very, very, very big mistake.”

Read more:
Robert Durst says ‘I was on meth’ during HBO series ‘The Jinx’

The documentary filmmakers discovered a crucial piece of evidence that connected him to an anonymous note sent to police directing them to Berman’s lifeless body.

Durst, who was so confident he couldn’t be connected to the note, told filmmakers “only the killer could have written” the note.

Filmmakers confronted him with a letter he sent Berman a year earlier. The handwriting was identical and Beverly Hills was misspelled as “Beverley” on both. He couldn’t tell the two apart.

The gotcha moment provided the climax of the movie as Durst stepped off camera and muttered to himself on a live microphone in the bathroom: “Killed them all, of course.”

During 14 days of testimony that was so punishing Judge Mark Windham called it “devastating,” Durst denied killing his wife and Berman, though he said he would lie if he did.

He tried to explain away the note and what prosecutors said was a confession during an unguarded moment.

For the first time, Durst admitted on the witness stand that he sent the note and had been in Los Angeles at the time of Berman’s death.

Durst said he sent the note because he wanted Berman to be found but didn’t want anyone to know he had been there because it would look suspicious.

He acknowledged that even he had difficulty imagining he could have written the note without killing Berman.

“It’s very difficult to believe, to accept, that I wrote the letter and did not kill Susan Berman,” Durst testified.

A prosecutor said it was one of the truest things Durst said amid a ton of lies.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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These Popular Fall Renovations Are Getting Done In Canada This Year

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The weather in Canada can be unpredictable, so homeowners often wait for late spring or summer to do their home renovations. They want to take advantage of the warmer weather, especially on outdoor projects.

But contractors continue to work long after the summer ends. Demand for renos can surge in the fall as homeowners try to get things done before the harsh winter weather sets in.

Even moderate renovations to your home can help increase the value when selling. Having a newly renovated house and working with a great real estate agent in Toronto can help get you the best return on your property.

But what renovations are Canadians getting done in the fall?

 

Heated Flooring

The popularity of carpet has dwindled in the last twenty years, as people often favour the sleek style of hardwood and tile flooring. While these floors look beautiful, they can have an unexpected drawback; They’re cold. This is why heated flooring has become one of the most popular “invisible” renovations in modern Canadian homes. Installing underfloor heating helps provide even heat through your floors, so stepping out of bed on a cold morning won’t be so unpleasant. These floors can be installed anywhere in the house, from bathrooms to bedrooms.

Keeping the Heat in

Insulation is another popular renovation in the fall. Upgrading old insulation is not only food for keeping your house toasty on the cooler nights, but it also helps reduce mould, rot, and other unpleasantries that lurk behind the walls. Fall is a popular time to get these renovations done because the temperatures have not yet dropped below freezing, meaning you won’t have to worry about your house letting in too much cold during its renovation period.

For the same reasons, this is also an excellent time to get your doors and windows professionally replaced for more energy-efficient models, as nobody wants a gaping hole in their wall in the middle of winter– or the heat of summer.

Company is Coming

The winter months are full of social occasions, from Thanksgiving to holiday parties. These social occasions mean entertaining guests that are coming over to your home. Fall is an ideal time to get your home renovations well underway before they arrive. These guest-centred renovations usually include bathrooms, which can be particularly good to get finished before the ground starts to freeze and plumbing is harder to access.

Kitchen upgrades are another popular choice to get done, as entertaining guests means having a space to do so and cooking for them. Renovations to make a more ideal and open concept kitchen, as well as the addition of islands peak during this time.

Roof Repair

Have you ever passed people working on a roof in the middle of the summer and wondered how they’re surviving the heat? The striking heat of the summer can make roof work unpleasant, but waiting until winter is dangerous, especially in icy conditions. Fall is the perfect time to get any roof maintenance done before the snow falls and damages your home.

Credit: HeungSoon via Pixabay

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FORT MAC LRA Approves Interim Plan for TD JAKES Real Estate Ventures Group – KPVI News 6

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FORT MAC LRA Approves Interim Plan for TD JAKES Real Estate Ventures Group  KPVI News 6



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Could New Zealand's radical new housing law help Canada curb its skyrocketing real estate prices? – National Post

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New Zealand is currently plagued by a real estate market that is even more unaffordable than Canada’s

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A radical new law intended to reduce New Zealand’s infamous housing crunch could well be a model for how Canada could curb its ever-skyrocketing real estate prices, according to experts contacted by the National Post.

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This week, in a rare bipartisan action, the New Zealand government introduced measures to quash “overly restrictive planning rules” that hinder development in urban cores.

New Zealanders may now develop up to 50 per cent of their land — and build up to three storeys — without requiring consent from municipal authorities. The reforms also unleash landowners to build up to three homes per lot in areas that previously restricted those lots to one or two homes.

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While the measures do not mandate development of existing homes, they mean that New Zealanders now have much more freedom to build on their land without butting up against municipal planning laws. A similar law applied to Vancouver and Toronto, for instance, would automatically free builders from the need to seek local approval for a laneway house.

A government-commissioned analysis by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has estimated that the new measures will spur a building boom expected to add between 48,200 and 105,500 new units of housing in New Zealand by the end of the decade.

“I think reforms like this would likely help increase Canadian housing stock quite a bit,” Nathanael Lauster, a housing density researcher at the University of British Columbia, told the Post.

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Lauster helped created the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project , an effort to meticulously document zoning laws in Canada’s third largest city. What the project has revealed is that the vast majority of land in Vancouver is zoned for single family homes, effectively making densification illegal in much of Canada’s most unaffordable real estate market.

A screenshot of the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project. Every patch of yellow indicates where it’s illegal to build anything except a detached home or duplex.
A screenshot of the Metro Vancouver Zoning Project. Every patch of yellow indicates where it’s illegal to build anything except a detached home or duplex. Photo by Metro Vancouver Housing Project

In an extensive analysis of New Zealand’s new housing reforms, Lauster called them a “welcome new model” for stripping “exclusionary” powers from the hands of local governments, which disproportionately favour the interests of existing homeowners. “It’s relatively easy for municipal politics to become captured by those most resistant to change and greater inclusion,” he wrote.

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New Zealand’s new measures were supported both by its Labour Party government and its conservative National Party opposition. Tellingly, the policy’s official launch was attended by National Party Leader Judith Collins.

“National supports this policy because it focuses on supply. Rather than making life harder for property owners, this policy tells them that you have the right to build,” Collins told a Tuesday press conference .

The National Party leader also struck out at Kiwis who opposed the law on the grounds that it would strip communities of their “character.” “Our communities lose their character when people can’t afford to own their own home,” she said.

New Zealand is currently plagued by a real estate market that is even more unaffordable than Canada’s. The gap between New Zealand’s average incomes and its average real estate cost is currently among the highest in the OECD .

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Notably, the problem continues to grow despite the fact that New Zealand maintains strict controls on foreign ownership. In 2018, the country banned non-residents from purchasing pre-existing New Zealand real estate, although foreigners are given limited reign to purchase new builds.

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Canada’s already overheated real estate market is on a fast track to match New Zealand for unaffordability. In just the last year, average Canadian home prices soared by an incredible 21.4 per cent .

The singular reason for this is lack of supply. Canada has the lowest number of housing units per capita than any other country in the G7, a ratio that is only getting worse as lacklustre housing development is met with massive population growth.

In Canada, any law to defang municipal zoning laws would need to come from the provinces. With New Zealand having a population of only five million, its national government often makes decisions that would be considered regional issues in Canada.

However, there is strong precedent to show that Canadian provinces have relatively free reign to steamroll municipal laws whenever they want to.

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One of the starkest recent examples was when the province of Ontario abruptly cut the size of Toronto City Council in half.

While the City of Toronto took the issue to court framing it as an undemocratic coup, just this month the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Ontario acted constitutionally.

In the recent Canadian federal election, all three major parties debuted housing plans that mostly skirted around the issue of municipal barriers to development. The Conservatives proposed tying federal transit funding to a city’s willingness to densify, but there were no blunt New Zealand-style promises to override onerous local zoning laws

“If there was a blanket up-zoning of land in Canadian metropolitan areas, it would lead to an increase in the housing stock,” said Steve Lafleur, an analyst specializing in housing affordability at the Fraser Institute.

The libertarian-minded Fraser Institute isn’t one to advocate stricter government control of an economic sector, and Lafleur said that provincial “micromanaging” of local zoning would not be ideal. Nevertheless, he said, “given immense demand for housing, it is impossible to believe that there would not be a boom … if denser housing were allowed.”

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