As did Durst himself. He took the risk of again taking the stand for what turned out to be about three weeks of testimony. It didn’t work as it had in Texas.

Under devastating cross-examination by prosecutor Lewin, Durst admitted he lied under oath in the past and would do it again to dodge trouble.

“‘Did you kill Susan Berman?’ is strictly a hypothetical,” Durst said from the stand. “I did not kill Susan Berman. But if I had, I would lie about it.”

The jury promptly returned a guilty verdict.

It long appeared he would avoid any convictions.

Durst went on the run in late 2000 after New York authorities reopened an investigation into his wife’s disappearance, renting a modest apartment in Galveston and disguising himself as a mute woman.

In 2001, the body parts of a neighbor, Black, began washing up in Galveston Bay.

Arrested in the killing, Durst jumped bail. He was caught shoplifting a sandwich six weeks later in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he had gone to college. Police found $37,000 cash and two handguns in his car.

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

He would testify that Black had pulled a gun on him and died when the weapon went off during a struggle.

He told jurors in detail how he bought tools and downed a bottle of Jack Daniels before dismembering Black’s body and tossing it out to sea. While he was cleared of murder, he pleaded guilty to violating his bail, and to evidence tampering for the dismemberment. He served three years in prison.

Durst had bladder cancer and his health deteriorated during the Berman trial. He was escorted into court in a wheelchair wearing prison attire each day because his attorneys said he was unable to change into a suit. But the judge declined further delays after a 14-month pause during the coronavirus pandemic.

At his sentencing, Durst entered the courtroom with a wide-eyed vacant stare. Attorney Dick DeGuerin said he was “very, very sick” — the worst he looked in the 20 years he spent representing him.

Near the end of the hearing after Berman’s loved ones told the judge that her death upended their lives, Durst coughed hard and appeared to struggle to breathe. His chest heaved and he pulled his mask down below his mouth to gulp for air.

He was hospitalized two days later with COVID-19 and DeGuerin said he was on a ventilator. But Durst apparently recovered and was transferred to state prison where mug shots showed no sign of a ventilator.

The son of real estate magnate Seymour Durst, Robert Durst was born April 12, 1943, and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. He would later say that at age 7, he witnessed his mother’s death in a fall from their home.

He graduated with an economics degree in 1965 from Lehigh University, where he played lacrosse. He entered a doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he met Berman, but dropped out and returned to New York in 1969.

He became a developer in the family business, but his father passed him over to make his younger brother, and rival, Douglas the head of the Durst Organization in 1992.

Durst broke ties with his family, reaching a settlement with a family trust. He was estimated to have a fortune of about $100 million.

Douglas Durst testified at trial that he feared his brother wanted to kill him.

“Bob lived a sad, painful and tragic life,” he said in a statement Monday. “We hope his death brings some closure to those he hurt.”

In 1971, Robert Durst met Kathie McCormack, and the two married on his 30th birthday in 1973.

In January 1982, his wife was a student in her final year at medical school when she disappeared. She had shown up unexpectedly at a friend’s dinner party in Newtown, Connecticut, then left after a call from her husband to return to their home in South Salem, New York.

Robert Durst told police he last saw her when he put her on a train to stay at their apartment in Manhattan because she had classes the next day.

Prosecutors said Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, posed as Kathie Durst to call Albert Einstein College of Medicine the next morning to say she was sick and wouldn’t be at her hospital rotation. The call provided an alibi for Robert Durst because it made it appear his wife made it safely to Manhattan after he saw her.

He would divorce her eight years later, claiming spousal abandonment, and in 2017, at her family’s request, she was declared legally dead.

Kathie McCormack Durst’s family said they plan to provide an update on Jan. 31 — the 40th anniversary of her disappearance — into an investigation of others who helped cover up her killing, attorney Robert Abrams said.

Robert Durst is survived by his second wife Debrah Charatan, whom he married in 2000. He had no children.

Under California law, a conviction is vacated if a defendant dies while the case is under appeal, said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School.

Attorney Chip Lewis said Durst had appealed.

Associated Press writer Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed.