Judge who presided over 2003 Durst trial speaks out

Monday, March 16, 2015
Judge who presided over 2003 trial speaks out
Judge Susan Criss says she didn't believe prosecutors were prepared for the 2003 Robert Durst murder trial

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Many of our viewers remember the moment when a Galveston jury found Robert Durst not guilty of murder.

From reporters in the courtroom to the judge on the bench it was an extraordinary case to watch unfold and while he was acquitted he has made headlines again and again.

It was a verdict in 2003 that even seemed to surprise the defendant himself.

Robert Durst was acquitted in the 2001 dismembered death of his neighbor, Morris Black. Durst claimed self-defense.

"It was an amazing experience from the very beginning," said former Eyewitness News reporter Cynthia Cisneros.

Cisneros is now KTRK's Vice-President of Community Affairs covered the trial every day. Cisneros says the tone in the courtroom was unusual almost as if you were in church.

"He was always very quiet, always very unassuming. From the very beginning the jury was riveted by Durst, they could not take their eyes off of him," she said.

Judge Susan Criss worked in Galveston County courts for 15 years and was the judge assigned to the case. She got a call early this morning that durst had been arrested again.

"I was thrilled and extremely relieved," said Judge Criss.

Judge Criss says she doesn't believe prosecutors were adequately prepared for the 2003 trial and especially against the big team of lawyers the billionaire had hired to defend him.

"You're still human and you see the job the other people do and sometimes when you think if I were prosecuting that case or if I were defending that case I would do this or ask this question. In this case that was happening the entire time," Judge Criss said.

Durst has been acquitted of murder once, now charged in a second murder and suspicions surrounding a third killing. The former judge points out at the heart of this bizarre story there are three families still waiting for justice.

"They've gotten no justice and they've gotten no closure," said Judge Criss.