On the 20th August 1989 police received a call from Lyle Menendez telling them his parents had been killed. He seemed very distressed during this call and as you would expect he was upset and crying. When the police arrived at the home they found the bodies of José and Kitty Menendez, they had both been shot multiple times.
Kitty and José married in 1963, they had their oldest son Lyle in 1968 followed by Erik in 1970. Kitty was a teacher up until the birth of Lyle. José was a corporate executive, he had high hopes for his sons.
The murder's of Kitty and José were murdered on the 20th August 1989. They had been spending the night watching TV, when their sons burst into the room and shot them numerous times. Lyle and Erik shot them in the kneecaps to make the murders look like a mafia type killing. The brother's left the home and when they returned just before midnight, Lyle rang police to report the crime. During the phone call he seemed to be very distressed.
Lyle and Erik's Behaviour Following Murder's
Following their parents death's, Erik and Lyle went on a shopping spree. They bought expensive watches, cars and holidays among other things. This behaviour added to investigators thoughts that the boys were involved in the murder's.
It was a confession to a psychologist that ultimately led to Erik and Lyle being arrested. Erik had confessed to the doctor about what he and Lyle had done, after Lyle threatened Dr. L. Jerome Oziel he told the police what he knew. Lyle and Erik Menendez were arrested in March 1990.
Erik and Lyle's first trial, in 1993, was televised and gained a lot of attention. During this trial claims were made that the boys had been abused by their parents, and that they had suffered sexual abuse by their father. This trial ended with juries unable to agree on a verdict.
A re-trial was arranged, the judge for this trial did not allow cameras in court. The judge would not let juries consider manslaughter instead of murder, and a lot of the claims of sexual abuse were also not allowed.
Erik and Lyle Menendez were found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and also conspiracy to commit murder. In 1996 the brother's were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. They did try to appeal both the sentence and conviction but were unsuccessful, they will spend the rest of their lives in prison.
The brothers have recently been given permission to be in the same prison, meaning they can see each other for the first time in over 10 years. Lyle and Erik have both married whilst behind bars.
As I said at the beginning, I have changed my opinion on this case many times over the years. I think something definately happened to the brother's. However some of the evidence shows that the murders weren't the actions of scared boys, more like cold blooded killers. José was described by many people, not just Erik and Lyle, as a controlling bully and overall not a nice man. Does this mean that he sexually abused his children? Nobody will ever know for sure, I am inclined to believe the boys reports of this abuse. Watching clips of them giving evidence, I felt they were being truthful, either that or they are really good actors.
Threatening the doctor and going on a spending spree after the murder's definately didn't help their defense. They obviously did murder they parents, but was there circumstances and things going on in the house that might have affected them to point they felt they had no choice but to kill? My opinion is that Erik and Lyle should be in prison, but for the rest of their lives? I'm not so sure.
Do you have any views on this case? Let me know in the comments.