It’s a case spanning almost four decades, involving an eccentric New York real estate heir, a wife’s disappearance, two dead bodies and a blockbuster HBO documentary.

Robert Durst’s murder trial is expected to begin next week, in perhaps the most closely watched case in Los Angeles since O.J. Simpson. It’s not the first time he’ll face a jury accused of murder. He was acquitted in Texas 17 years ago even after admitting to shooting and dismembering his elderly neighbor and dumping the body parts into Galveston Bay. The jury accepted his claim that he acted in self defense and panicked.

“It’s a miracle he escaped conviction in Galveston,” said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “But the problems he faces here are different, and there’s a lot more evidence than there was at the Texas trial.”

That evidence includes a cryptic note that Durst admits writing, notifying police of a cadaver in a house, and his apparent confession on tape in the HBO documentary. Durst, who may be worth as much as $100 million, is accused of murdering his longtime friend Susan Berman in late December 2000. She was found shot dead in her Beverly Hills home.

The trial of the estranged scion of a New York real-estate family, with stakes in properties including One World Trade Center, may take about five months. Jurors will be treated to Durst’s long and twisted history: from his wife’s disappearance in 1982 to his time in Galveston, where he lived disguised as a mute woman, to his arrest in 2015 on the Berman murder charge.

The prosecution’s theory is that Durst killed his wife, Kathie, at their South Salem cottage in January 1982, and Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster who ran the Flamingo hotel in the 1940s, helped cover it up. Kathie’s body was never found.

When New York reopened an investigation into Kathie’s disappearance, prosecutors in Los Angeles claim Durst killed Berman so she wouldn’t talk. They’re also likely to revisit the Galveston slaying, arguing that Durst killed his neighbor because he discovered his real identity.

The case was featured in the Emmy-award winning 2015 HBO documentary “The Jinx: the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” The FBI arrested Durst on the eve of the airing of the final episode which concluded with Durst, off camera in a bathroom but with his microphone still on, muttering to himself.

The raw audio, played in court, showed Durst’s words -- including “Killed them all, of course” -- were played out of sequence, making them seem more incriminating.

The wild card at the trial could be who the defense will try to finger as Berman’s killer, Levenson said. Strategically, Durst’s lawyers will want to come up with an alternative scenario to create reasonable doubt about his guilt, she said.

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