“They shot and killed my parents!”
Of all the crimes in this hook perhaps the worst is parenticide — the crime that Lyle and Erik Menendez committed in the summer of 1989. Cuban-born Jose Menendez married Kitty, who was three years older than him, and they had two sons Joseph Lyle (born 10 January 1968) and Erik Galen (born 27 November 1971). The Menendez brothers grew up in Princeton, New Jersey before relocating to California.
Jose and Kitty Menendez were watching a video of The Spy Who Loved Me in the den of their $4 million, 23-room Beverly Hills mansion when their sons burst in wielding shotguns. The first shots hit Mr Menendez in the arm and then one of the brothers shot him in the head. Mrs Menendez was shot in both legs and the left breast but began crawling away.
They ran out of ammunition and left the house, reloading in the driveway. They returned and, as their mother was crawling towards them, they put the gun to her left cheek and pulled the trigger. The brothers left, changed their clothes and dumped their guns on Mulholland Drive. Then they went to a cinema to watch Batman to establish an alibi before returning to the house. At 11.47pm Lyle called 911 and cried, “They shot and killed my parents!” After their parents’ deaths the brothers began spending lavishly; estimates put the figure at $1 million in six months. Lyle bought a Rolex and a Porsche Carrera and opened a restaurant while Erik hired a full-time tennis coach.
Finally on 31 October, Erik confessed to his psychiatrist Jerome Oziel who went to the police. On 8 March 1990 the brothers were arrested. On 8 December 1992 the Los Angeles County Grand Jury indicted the Menendez brothers on charges that they murdered their parents. They went on trial on 20 July 1993 and Erik’s lawyer Leslie Abramson claimed that their parents had sexually abused the boys.
She also claimed that during a family argument Kitty had pulled off Lyle’s wig and the shock of seeing his bald brother made Erik take him into his confidence. The defence almost worked and the trial ended in two deadlocked juries on 25 January 1994. A second trial began on 11 October 1995 and saw both brothers convicted on 20 March 1996 of two counts of first-degree murder, plus conspiracy to commit murder.
On 2 July 1996 Judge Stanley M. Weisberg sentenced Lyle and Erik Menendez to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
722 Elm Drive, Beverly Hills, California, USA
Sunday 20 August 1989
In January 1997 Lyle married Anna Erikkson. It lasted less than a year. In June 1999 Erik married Tammi Ruth Saccoman at Folsom State Prison. Neither marriage has been consummated. In 2005 Tammi Menendez published a book They Said We’d Never Make It – My Life With Erik Menendez. Some reports have it that the brothers have not spoken to each other for more than ten years.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
In July 1988 Erik and Lyle began breaking into the homes of their parent’s friends and stole more than $100,000 in jewellery and money. Jose Menendez paid restitution to keep his sons out of prison.