Sometimes the best part of a true-crime documentary isn’t when the valiant filmmaker finally gets at some semblance of the truth. It’s not even really part of the actual program, taking place long after the credits roll and everyone’s gone home, usually months after the documentary has aired. It’s the part when the slow wheels of justice finally start a-turning and the years of effort from the documentarian result in real-world action. With his groundbreaking The Thin Blue Line, Errol Morris successfully freed the innocent Randall Dale Adams from prison for a murder he never committed. Now, director Andrew Jarecki has done the opposite and helped to mete out punishment to a slippery fish who almost got away.
The New York Times reported today that after a highly publicized arrest last March, Robert Durst has pleaded guilty in response to an illegal gun-possession charge and now could face 85 months in a federal-detention facility. The subject of Jarecki’s HBO documentary series The Jinx and a suspect in ongoing murder investigations, Durst was prohibited from owning a firearm, but he apparently decided now was not the right time to begin obeying the law, and got one anyway. But a measly gun charge is only the tip of this homicidal iceberg. Durst will be transferred to a prison in Los Angeles so that he may face the far graver charges in this case, specifically those concerning the murder of his friend and confidante Susan Berman. That case has remained open for 34 years, and if a jury is able to make some real charges stick to the man, then it could bring some precious resolution to a high-profile controversy. The most astonishing quality of The Jinx was Durst’s unchecked ego, his sense of self-importance that convinced him he was rich or crazy enough to be beyond the law. So, I feel somewhat secure when I say that wherever he is right now — and it’ll be a long time before Durst’s whereabouts aren’t kept under closer surveillance — he’s taking this in stride.
(Via The New York Times)