Dramatic storytelling or manipulation of the truth? That’s the question posed by the New York Times about the HBO documentary The Jinx, which in 2015 aired an apparent “confession” by Robert Durst—accused of killing friend Susan Berman and long suspected of killing his wife—in its final episode. In those last minutes, Durst, who was being interviewed by the filmmakers, went to the bathroom wearing his mic and said the now-famous words that ended the series: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” Now, as the 76-year-old Durst’s trial for Berman approaches in California, his lawyers are trying to make sure that audio, as well as other evidence compiled by the filmmakers, is deemed inadmissible. That’s because those two sentences were presented out of order, with film editors pulling them from different parts of Durst’s ramblings.
“The editing is problematic,” says Mark J. Harris, an Oscar-winning documentarian. “They put those lines together in a way that’s very damning. But it is definitely more ambiguous in the transcript.” Jezebel notes that, complicating things further, is the fact that the “confession” was taped in 2012, but the filmmakers say they didn’t discover the audio until 2014; Durst wasn’t arrested until 2015, on the eve of the final episode. “How many jurors saw The Jinx and remember the final lines?” criminal defense attorney Ben Brafman, not involved with the Durst case, says, per the Times. The filmmakers, meanwhile, contend they simply put the “killed them all” part last for dramatic effect, and because there’s a 10-second pause between the two final lines, they didn’t think viewers would think the second part was an answer to the first. (Read more Robert Durst stories.)