New York real estate heir Robert Durst has tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently connected to a ventilator, his attorney said.
“All we know he’s tested positive for Covid-19, he’s in hospital and on a ventilator," Dick DeGuerin told NBC News on a phone call. "He looked awful Thursday, worst I’ve ever seen him. He was having difficulty breathing, he was having difficulty speaking."
His diagnosis comes the same week he was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a friend more than 20 years ago, in a slaying possibly tied to the killer's missing wife.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham handed down that punishment one month after jurors convicted Durst, 78, of first-degree murder for the Dec. 23, 2000, death of Susan Berman. Berman was shot at point-blank range in the back of the head inside her Benedict Canyon home. Durst's lawyers plan to appeal the judge's decision.
DeGuerin said he believes Durst was vaccinated, but didn’t know if he had a Covid-19 vaccine booster.
Grace Medrano, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, told NBC News in an email that they can't answer medical questions related to Durst's health citing HIPAA privacy rules, which establishes national standards to protect an individual's medical records and other personal health information. Medrano also declined to disclose Durst's vaccination status.
This is not the first time Durst’s health has been an issue since during the trial.
He was briefly hospitalized in June following "some incident this morning involving his health," Windham said at the time. The judge also denied DeGuerin's request to postpone the trial because Durst was battling bladder cancer and other health problems, according to DeGuerin.
Durst was also not in court the day jurors convicted him of Berman’s murder last month because he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Los Angeles Times, who first reported Durst's latest Covid-related hospitalization.
Court filings obtained by the newspaper also show that Durst’s attorneys repeatedly sought a mistrial claiming he was too sick to testify in his own defense. Durst also endured most of his trial in a wheelchair.
Prior to Berman's murder in 2000, she was scheduled to speak to police about a fake alibi she allegedly gave Durst when his wife disappeared in New York in 1982, according to prosecutors.
Kathie Durst has never been found, and no charges have ever been brought in connection with her disappearance.
After Berman's killing, Durst fell off the grid and landed in Galveston, Texas, where he assumed the name Dorothy Ciner and regularly wore a woman's wig, dresses and high heels.
Claiming self-defense, Durst was acquitted of the September 2001 killing of his neighbor Morris Black, despite admitting to dismembering his body.
He went to the bathroom while still wearing a hot microphone, which recorded him whispering to himself: "You're caught! What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."
In statements before Durst's sentencing, Berman's family spoke passionately about the impact she, and her murder, had on them.
"Let us know where Kathie's body is, so her family can get some closure," David Berman, one of Susan Berman's cousins, said.