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Laraine Newman, an original cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” testified Wednesday in the trial against alleged killer Robert Durst.
Newman, who now works in voice-over animation, said that a friend created an alibi for Durst in the death of his first wife, Kathie Durst.
That friend was Susan Berman, a writer and close friend of both Newman and Durst, whom he is charged with killing in December 2000.
Newman, 69, testified about an incident in which Berman told her long before her death that she provided a false alibi for Durst in the disappearance of Kathie — who was declared dead in 2017 and hadn’t been seen since 1982.
“Susan told me that she had provided an alibi for him, for Bobby, in relation to the disappearance,” Newman testified about Berman, whom Durst had met at UCLA. “I remember her saying that she made a phone call.”
Newman said she was “100 percent” sure that Berman told her about providing the false alibi.
“And in discussing this alibi, did she indicate to you whether or not in words whether this was an actual alibi or whether she had done something false?” the prosecutor asked Newman.
“It was something false,” Newman said. She said she had subsequently “responded negatively” to Berman’s statement, which she then tried to take back. That was the last time they discussed these matters, Newman said.
Prosecutors claim that Berman posed as Kathie Durst and made a phone call on Durst’s behalf.
Newman stated that she had “no doubt” that Berman confessed to the alibi to her — even though Newman reported her own history of drug abuse. Newman also mentioned how she felt “tremendous shame that I did not appreciate the gravity of what she was telling me.”
The trial kicked off in May 2021 after a yearlong delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 78-year-old real-estate heir, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer before the trial began, looked gaunt and sat slumped in a wheelchair during the prosecution’s opening statements.
Durst has pleaded not guilty.
At the trial, prosecutor John Lewin detailed the fatal encounter, showing graphic images of Berman’s lifeless body to the panel.
“He basically blew her brains out. That’s what he did,” Lewin told the jury, describing the alleged slaying and a crime scene revealing no evidence of a burglary or robbery.
Lewin had alleged that the motive behind the murder of Berman was clear — he killed Berman so that she would stay silent about the death of Kathie.
“He killed [Berman] out of survival. He believed that, ‘In the end, it was her or me. I have no choice,’ ” Lewin said.
The California jury was also shown video of recorded testimony given by Dr. Peter Wilk, his first wife’s medical school professor.
“She was very emotional, she was shaking, she was traumatized,” Wilk said in the testimony.
“She said she was going through a divorce . . . there was violence involved . . . her life was a mess,” he added.
Prosecutors also intend to show that Durst killed and dismembered a third person, a drifter named Morris Black whom he met in Galveston, Texas, while in hiding.
Earlier this month, Durst was hospitalized for an unspecified medical issue amid his murder trial in California, his attorney said.
Newman will be back on the stand Thursday afternoon for continued cross-examination by David Chesnoff, one of Durst’s attorneys.
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