What Happened After the Menendez Brothers Murdered Their Parents?

Disclaimer: This article contains mentions of murder and abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

CBS 48 Hours will explore the sensational case from the 1990s and its recent developments. The upcoming episode, titled “The Menendez Brothers’ Fight for Freedom,” premieres on the network on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at 10 p.m. ET. The synopsis reads, “The Menendez brothers were given life sentences for gunning down their own parents. Now they’re hoping new evidence could reopen the case.”

On August 20, 1989, Lyle, then 21, and Erik Menendez, 18, fatally shot their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez. The shooting occurred inside the family’s Beverly Hills mansion while the couple was watching television on the couch. Town & Country reported that after committing the murders, the brothers drove to a movie theater and bought tickets for Batman. Before returning home, they disposed of the guns and changed their clothes. Then, they pretended to find the crime scene and called 911.

Following the murders, the Menendez Brothers went on to lead an extravagant life with their fortune. They spent thousands on Rolex watches and stayed in expensive hotels before leasing condos on the water in Marina Del Rey. The duo spent money on lavish travels, clothes, cars, bought a restaurant, and even went to therapy.

However, during one such therapy session with Dr. Jerome Oziel, Erik Menendez confessed to the crime. This led to their ultimate arrest after six months of luxury. After two mistrials, a third jury convicted Erik and Lyle in 1996. The defendants and their attorneys had alleged self-defense. They received life in prison without parole.

Why did the Menendez Brothers murder their parents?

During the Menendez Brothers’ trial, the defense alleged that Erik and Lyle murdered Jose and Kitty in self-defense. According to their claims, their father, Jose Menendez, allegedly sexually abused the defendants for years while their mother, Kitty, enabled the said abuse. stated that the brothers claimed they killed their parents because of safety reasons after enduring a lifetime of sexual abuse.

The outlet reported that as per the New York Times, prosecutors argued the brothers killed their parents for financial gain. Both their trials occurred separately. However, the juries deadlocked, prompting the respective judges to declare mistrials in January 1994. A retrial began in August 1995, at the end of which a single jury found them guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The jury delivered the guilty verdict in March 1996.

According to the California Department of Corrections, the Menendez Brothers are now serving life with no parole in the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. The brothers have not denied that they shot and killed their parents. However, in a recent interview with CBS’ 48 Hours, Lyle Menendez said, “There’s just never been a case of guilt or innocence,” per People Magazine. He added, “It was always about why it happened.”

According to the report, during their trials, the prosecution did not believe their claims of abuse. Prosecutors argued that they confessed to murdering their parents in therapy but never mentioned anything about the said abuse. In the 48 Hours interview, Lyle said that they did not talk about the abuse because of “just shame. Just not wanting it to be public.”

In May 2023, the Menendez Brothers’ lawyer, Cliff Gardner, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Los Angeles Superior Court. Garnder cited evidence unearthed in a Peacock docuseries, Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed, which premiered last April.

The evidence included similar allegations by Roy Rosselló, a former member of the Latin boy band Menudo, against Jose Menendez. CNN reported that in the series, Rosselló alleged that Jose, who was an executive for RCA Records, drugged and raped him in the 1980s. The petition also mentions a letter Erik Menendez wrote his cousin, Andy Cano, in December 1988, sharing details about the alleged abuse.

Cliff Gardner said, “We now have evidence…that makes absolutely clear that those boys were molested. And if those boys were molested…It would’ve been manslaughter, and they would be out.”

CBS 48 Hours’ episode will air the Menendez Brothers case this Saturday, March 2, 2023.

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