Lead prosecutor in Robert Durst murder trial vacationed at Hamptons home of killer’s widow

Debrah Charatan was later questioned about Lewin's visit to her Bridgehampton mansion under oath.

Tara Rosenblum and Lee Danuff

May 28, 2024, 5:38 PM

Updated 19 days ago


The Turn To Tara team has uncovered evidence that the star prosecutor responsible for the murder conviction of New York real estate scion Robert Durst took a free vacation at the Long Island mansion owned by his widow – just a few months after the serial killer’s conviction.
John Lewin was the lead prosecutor in the 2021 California trial that found Durst guilty of murder.
The high-profile conviction instantly turned Lewin into a household name. There were TV show cameos, front-page headlines, podcasts, publicity parties - and apparently luxury stays in the Hamptons.
News 12’s Senior Investigative Reporter Tara Rosenblum learned that just a few months after Durst was found guilty and subsequently died in prison, Lewin had a free sleepover at a beachfront mansion in Bridgehampton.
The home, estimated to be worth $17 million, is owned by Debrah Charatan, Robert Durst's widow.
In a videotaped deposition obtained exclusively by News 12, Charatan was questioned last fall about the nature of Lewin’s stay at her estate. 
In it, she says she knew Lewin was coming with his daughter and that there was no one else there at the time but Charatan.
A few months later, under oath for a wrongful death suit brought by Durst's first wife, Lewin was also asked to explain the overnight encounter and appears visibly uncomfortable.
“Did I spend the night? So, my daughter and I, on a vacation to New York City, made arrangements…the trial was long over, Bob Durst was long dead, and we made the arrangement,” said Lewin.
Durst died in January 2022, just a few months before Lewin vacationed at his widow's mansion. 
Lewin went on to say the original plan was for two other people to join them at Charatan's home, but he claims the other guests couldn't make it.
"And my daughter and I had a lovely… I think we spent not one night if I recall…I think it was two nights there. I can’t remember but it’s nothing that is in any way unethical, illegal or improper,” said Lewin.
Not everyone agrees, including Pace law professor and former Manhattan prosecutor Bennett Gershman.
“In my mind, this does not pass the smell test,” says Gershman, who is one of the nation's leading legal minds on prosecutorial conduct. “I just don't get it. It just strikes me as so foolish and terrible judgment.”
Gershman said Lewin’s Hamptons excursion has the potential to complicate the legal battle over Durst's estate as well as Lewin’s own standing at the DA’s office.
Lewin has been long known as the king of cold cases and has made a name for himself following a string of legal victories in long unsolved crimes out in California.
“It raises all kinds of questions. You know prosecutors shouldn’t be in a situation where their judgment, their conduct could be called into question. He made a terrible mistake. In terms of judgment...and are there going to be any consequences?” asks Gershman.
News 12 reached out to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office to find out.
All it would say was that it was aware of "the allegation" but couldn't comment further on personnel matters or pending investigations.


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