The “secret witness” who testified on Wednesday in a California court against multimillionaire New York real estate heir Robert Durst has been identified as a friend of murder victim Susan Berman. Nathan “Nick” Chavin, who reportedly fears for his life, arrived in the courtroom with private security.
Chavin said that he met Durst through Berman, who was killed in Los Angeles in 2000. Chavin and Durst would party together, going out for “boys’ nights out” in Manhattan. Chavin added that Durst had claimed that he and Kathleen had an open marriage.
While Chavin acknowledged that Durst was his best friend, he also related conversations with Kathleen in which she described her husband as “impossible,” and chillingly claimed to be afraid that he would hurt her.
Chavin was one of two witnesses whose identity was shrouded in secrecy as the latest twist in the sensational trial. Prosecutors have suggested that Chavin fears for his safety due to the fact that he has information that could “bury” Durst. The witnesses are actually testifying before the trial begins out of concern that Durst could somehow harm or silence them so they wouldn’t be able to incriminate him. But Durst’s attorneys have said that claims he could harm witnesses are absurd, due to his age and illness.
The testimony of the other witness, Dr. Albert Kuperman, 85, centers on a phone call he received 35 years ago. On February 1, 1982, Kuperman, a retired associate dean at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, got a call from a woman who identified herself as Kathie Durst.
She said she was sick with diarrhea and a headache and wouldn’t make it to her first day of a pediatrics clerkship in her final year of medical school. The call was long believed to be the last conversation anyone had with Kathie Durst.
But Deputy District Attorney John Lewin has suggested that someone else, possibly Susan Berman, could have placed the call. Durst told Lewin that filmmakers who interviewed him for the six-part HBO series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” thought Berman posed as Kathie Durst on the phone that day. At the time, Durst said Berman never would have made the call.
Prosecutors alleged that Durst killed his close friend Berman because he thought she was going to talk to police about the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathie Durst, who was never found.
Durst, 73, was arrested two years ago and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
In the final episode of The Jinx, he can be heard muttering to himself on a microphone he was unaware was still recording: “You’re caught! What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
The judge will decide at a preliminary hearing in October whether Durst will go to trial.
Main photo: Robert Durst [NBC Chicago/Facebook]