Dateline‘s newest episode features Robert Durst‘s arrest and unpacks the tapes of his friends’ testimonies. Durst was accused of killing his best friend in 2000, and his first trial is scheduled for September 3, 2019, weeks after the Dateline episode’s premiere.
The official synopsis for the episode reads “Video of Robert Durst’s friends testifying for the prosecution as to why he might have killed his best friend; a close friend of Durst’s opens up about being called to testify against Durst after years of supporting him.”
Robert Durst’s Trial Is for the Murder of His Friend Susan Berman
Heavy.com reported on Durst’s arrest in 2015. He was arrested in New Orleans, Louisiana after a warrant was put out for his arrest in Los Angeles. He was found not guilty for the murder of his neighbor in 2003, but the present arrest is for the murder of his friend Susan Berman, shortly before she was supposed to be questioned by police about the disappearance of Durst’s wife in 1982.
Durst’s case was complicated by the HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, which uncovered correspondence between Durst and Berman.
Emily & Stewart Altman Are the Friends Who Testified
Emily Altman is heavily featured in the Dateline episode, and the promo video teases that she will offer “revelations that you’ll hear for the first time and on TV.” According to the Los Angeles Times, Altman initially testified that Durst told her he was in Los Angeles at the time that Susan Berman was murdered, but later went back on her testimony saying that she was uncertain if he was actually in Los Angeles, or just the great California area.
According to New York Daily News, Stewart Altman took the stand and seemed to refute his wife’s testimony. He said “She was all upset, all mixed up about her testimony. I said to her, ‘It couldn’t have happened like that.’ I said, ‘You didn’t hear it at all — from anybody. Not in December 2000. We had no idea where Bob was or what he was doing.'” He asserted that they had not been in touch with Durst from 1995 to 2001, so they would not have known where he was at the time of the murder. Stewart Altman and Robert Durst’s friendship began in high school and, according to The New York Times, Altman had served as his lawyer and legal counsel on several occasions throughout their friendship.
The New York Times reported that Los Angeles deputy district attorney John Lewin sought the testimonies of both Stewart and his wife Emily about their friendship with Durst, considering his state of mind “when he fled New York in 2000; his decision to hide out in Galveston, Tex., where he posed as a mute woman; and other matters.”
Emily Altman is expected to reflect on the memories and thoughts that have come up for her since that confusing testimony in an interview with Keith Morrison to accompany the acquired “secret” testimony tapes for the special Dateline episode.
Tune in to new episodes of Dateline season 51, Monday nights at 10/9c on NBC.