By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Real estate scion Robert Durst's friend, Susan Berman, was in a state of emotional distress in the early 1980s when she said that if anything happened to her it would be his fault, Berman's friend testified on Tuesday at a hearing.
Robert Durst, whose ties to three mysterious deaths were explored in HBO's series "The Jinx," has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of his friend Berman in Los Angeles in 2000. Prosecutors allege Durst killed Berman because of what she knew about his wife's 1982 disappearance.
The judge has allowed some witnesses to take the stand early in the case, with their testimony preserved in the event they die before Durst's trial, which is not expected to begin before next year.
Berman's friend Miriam Barnes, 66, testified on Tuesday that about the time Kathleen Durst disappeared, Berman called her over to her New York apartment to tell her something urgent about Durst, whom Berman called Bobby.
"She said, 'I did something today for Bobby and if anything ever happens to me, Bobby did it,'" Barnes testified in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Barnes said Berman, the daughter of an organized crime figure, did not elaborate. Barnes said she did not think seriously about the conversation until after Berman was slain.
Police found Berman, 55, shot to death in her Los Angeles home in December 2000, shortly after it was revealed police in New York had reopened an investigation into the disappearance and presumed slaying of Kathleen Durst.
Also on Tuesday, former New York police detective James Varian, 77, testified that days after Kathleen Durst went missing, a Manhattan neighbor of the Dursts described an incident in late 1981 when Kathleen Durst frantically climbed out of a window in her home, crossing a terrace to enter the neighbor's apartment, Varian testified.
Kathleen Durst told the neighbor, Anne Doyle, in that incident that Robert Durst "beat her and wanted to kill her," Varian said.
Durst, 74, has denied having anything to do with the disappearance of his wife, whose body was never found. He has not been charged in her death.
"The Jinx" in 2015 chronicled Durst's ties to his wife's disappearance, Berman's slaying and Durst's 2003 acquittal in the killing and dismemberment of a Texas neighbor.
Prosecutors formally charged Durst with killing Berman a day after HBO aired the final episode, in which Durst was recorded muttering to himself off-camera, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Patrick Enright and Bill Trott)