TWO brothers killed their biological parents with 12-mm pistols before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money – but they insist it was “kill or be killed”.
Lyle and Erik Menendez were locked up for life after killing their mother and father, Kitty and Jose, at their Beverly Hills mansion on August 20, 1989.
Prosecutors argued that the couple, then 18 and 21 years old, brutally slaughtered their parents to obtain their vast fortune in one of the most famous murder cases. U.S.
Lyle and Erik became terrified when their trial was broadcast on TV as they tearfully announced that they had endured lifelong abuse.
And the case has now been re-examined in the Discovery documentary + ‘The Menendez Brothers: Misjudged?’.
The Sun Online received an exclusive first look at the documentary, which features Lyle giving live testimony, ahead of its release today on the streaming service.
The Menendez brothers’ case is also the subject of a new wave of interest – with many on social media campaigning for the brother’s case to be reopened.
Lyle, now 54, said in a rare interview that he believes people are now beginning to understand their case as sexual abuse becomes more widely talked about.
He said: “Until I mean a few years ago,[there]seemed to be just normal negative stuff against Menendez.
“And then just a kind of change, a perception.
“I realize that there is a lot of discussion going on leading up to these topics and our case online.
“They start from the perspective of understanding domestic abuse issues and it’s not that hard when you understand that, how can you end up in a murder.”
Millions watched as the brothers failed in court, telling how they endured terrible abuse from their father – encouraged by their mother.
They claimed that they felt they had no choice but to shoot their parents – as they believed they were in a “kill or be killed” situation.
But their accusations did not wash up with the authorities, who were adamant that they murdered their parents only for a cold purpose for money.
In the months following the murder, they spent large sums of cash on luxury goods, business, and travel — a sum of nearly $1 million before their arrest.
This is when Bill Cosby was still America’s favorite dad
The brothers were tried separately and each ended with deadlocked juries, with an immediate retrial called.
Cameras were banned during the second trial – and authorities limited testimony on sexual abuse allegations and the jury was barred from voting on manslaughter charges.
But nearly three decades on, the fascination with the brothers has flared up again, with thousands vowing to fight for their release from prison.
Hundreds of so-called fan accounts have sprung up on TikTok, with many angry when they believe their sexual abuse claims have been devalued too easily by the authorities.
They claim the brothers were unfairly tried and have denied their accusations that “people don’t want to hear” about sexual abuse because it was taboo in the 90s.
Lyle, the elder brother of the two brothers, said he believes the prosecution has been blinded by a “fog of social myths”.
He said: “In the early ’90s or when I was on trial like this was before the priest sex abuse scandal, and the coach scandal, and realizing that your neighbor had could be a predator, and this is when Bill Cosby was still a favorite in America. Dad.”
Thousands of people are now pushing for the case to be reopened because they believe the brothers suffered an unfair trial as prosecutors steered clear of the abuse charges.
Brittany, who runs a site called Menendez Bros & Survivors, was one of those who questioned how Lyle and Erik were treated by the courts amid the fight for their release.
She told the documentary: “I think in the early ’90s, people were comfortable talking about how spoiled rich kids killed their parents instead of abusing because it was easier.
“It’s easier to talk about rich kids who just want money than it is about a father who sexually abuses his son.
“The prosecution said that boys cannot be raped because they lack the necessary equipment to be raped.
“That will be said today? I really don’t think so.”
The brothers’ allegations of abuse were supported by family members in the initial trials.
Their cousin, Andy Cano, testified that as a child Erik had told him about the sexual abuse, while another cousin, Diane Vander Molen, told the court she had told him to. their mother about Jose’s sexual abuse of Lyle.
Erik testified that his father had repeatedly threatened to kill him if he did not keep the alleged abuse a secret.
But in the second trial, jurors heard few allegations of abuse – and Diane’s testimony was completely dismissed.
Both were jailed for life on two counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder,
Web experts have also suggested prose writers have downplayed the couple because they are desperate to win the case.
Dr Sharon Ross, professor of critical media studies at Columbia College Chicago, told the documentary: “After the first Menendez trial came to a standstill and they were preparing for their retrial, you may proceed with the trial of OJ Simpson.
“When the verdict came out declaring that he was not guilty, it caused a huge rift in the American public.
“But the key takeaway from OJ Simpson’s ruling is that since the plaintiffs lost, and lost so shamefully, many felt that the Los Angeles prosecution team was really under pressure to actually get it done. work for Menendez. The brothers’ trial will be next.”
Cliff Gardner, Lyle and Erik’s post-conviction attorney, said the prosecution “cannot have anything but a conviction” during the second trial.
Lyle and Erik, 51, remain in prison without being eligible for parole.
They reunited for the first time in 2018 since their sentences began nearly 22 years ago, and are being held in the same unit at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in California.