Lyle and Erik Menendez: What happened to them?

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Lyle and Erik Menendez made headlines from 1989, when both of their parents died through gunshot in their Beverly Hills home where they were having a nap.

Lyle and Erik Menendez made headlines, not because of some bravery they showed during the murder of their parents; they made the headlines because they were, after years of trial, found to be guilty of the murders of both of their parents.

Quite bizarre, isn’t it? What will make two men kill their own parents? Nonetheless, Lyle and Erik Menendez were found to be the ones who orchestrated the death of their parents, and they didn’t even hire any thugs to do it, they did it themselves.

How did Lyle and Erik Menendez kill their parents?

Lyle and Erik Menendez
The menedez brothers | Image source | Biography (Bio)

On the evening of August 20, 1989, José and Kitty were sleeping on a couch in the den of their house in Beverly Hills when Lyle and Erik Menendez entered the room carrying shotguns.

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José was shot in the back of the head with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.

Kitty was awakened by the shots and got up from the couch.

She was shot in the leg and fell, and was then shot several times in the arm, chest, and face, leaving her unrecognizable.

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After the act, Lyle and Erik Menendez left home and returned in the evening to call the police to report that someone had shot their parents to death while they were out watching movies.

A whole lot of things happened, including Lyle and Erik Menendez spending lavishly after the death of their parents leading to suspicion of them perpetuating the killing of their parents.

Lyle and Erik Menedez father Jose Menendez

Lyle and Erik’s father, José Enrique Menéndez, was born on May 6, 1944, in Havana, Cuba.

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At age 16, he moved to the United States, shortly after the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.

José attended Southern Illinois University, where he met Mary Louise “Kitty” Andersen (1941–1989).

They married in 1963 and moved to New York City, where José earned an accounting degree from Queens College.

The couple’s first son, Joseph Lyle Menéndez, who goes by his middle name, was born on January 10, 1968.

Kitty quit her teaching job after Lyle was born, and the family moved to New Jersey, where Erik was born on November 27, 1970, in Gloucester Township.

In New Jersey, the family lived in Hopewell Township in Mercer County, and both brothers attended Princeton Day School.

In 1986, José’s career as a corporate executive took the family to Beverly Hills, California.

The following year, Erik began attending high school at Beverly Hills High, where he earned average grades and displayed a remarkable talent for tennis, ranking 44th in the United States for 18-and-under players.

How were Lyle and Erik Menendez convicted of killing their own parents?

Lyle and Erik Menendez
Lyle and Erik Menendez | Image source | ABC News

In 1988, after getting caught in a string of burglaries, Erik was required by the court to meet with a therapist named Dr. Jerome Oziel.

The therapist reached out to Erik soon after the murders and began meeting with the younger Menendez brother, and soon enough, Erik confessed to killing his parents.

Oziel confided in his mistress, Judalon Smyth, who would ultimately play a big part in the case.

Apparently, Dr. Oziel had them on tape as they confessed to the act during the therapy session.

And the tape eventually helped in the case.

Lyle was arrested on March 8, 1990, and Erik turned himself in three days later after returning to Los Angeles from Israel. Both were held without bail and separated from each other.

In August 1990, Judge James Albrecht stated that tapes of the conversations between Erik and Oziel were admissible evidence since Oziel alleged that Lyle threatened him and violated doctor-patient privilege.

Albrecht’s ruling was appealed, and the proceedings were then delayed for two years.

The Supreme Court of California ruled in August 1992 that most of these tapes were admissible, accepting the tape in which Erik discussed the murders.

After that decision, a Los Angeles County grand jury issued indictments in December 1992, charging the brothers with the murders of their parents.

The trial of Lyle and Erik Menendez at the court

Lyle and Erik Menendez
The Menendez brothers | imange source | The Sun

The case became a national sensation when Court TV broadcast the trial in 1993.

Their defense lawyer, Leslie Abramson, became known for defending the brothers, particularly Erik.

Lyle and Erik Menendez stated that they were driven to murder by a lifetime of abuse at the hands of their parents, especially sexual abuse at the hands of their father, who was described as a cruel perfectionist and pedophile.

Meanwhile, their mother was described as an enabler, selfish, mentally unstable alcoholic, and drug addict, who encouraged her husband’s abuses and was also sometimes violent towards them.

The allegations against the couple were supported by their families, with multiple witnesses testifying.

The brothers’ cousin, Andy Cano, said that as a child, he was told by Erik about the sexual abuse, which they both described as “penis massages.”

As in their pretrial detention, the California Department of Corrections separated the brothers and sent them to different prisons.

Since they were considered to be maximum-security inmates, they were segregated from other prisoners.

They remained in separate prisons until February 2018 when Lyle was moved from Mule Creek State Prison in Northern California to the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County; where they were housed in separate units.

Lyle and Erik Menedez appeals after the conviction

On February 27, 1998, the California Court of Appeal upheld their murder convictions, and on May 28, 1998, the Supreme Court of California declined to review the case, thus allowing the decision of the appellate court to stand.

Both brothers filed habeas corpus petitions with the Supreme Court of California, which were denied in 1999.

Having exhausted their appeal remedies in state court, they filed separate habeas corpus petitions in the United States District Court. On March 4, 2003, a magistrate judge recommended the denial of the petitions and the district court adopted the recommendation.

Lyle and Erik Menedez marriage in prison

Lyle and Erik Menedez
Lyle and Erik Menedez | Image source | YEN

At the time of the murder of their parents, Lyle and Erik Menendez were 21 and 18 respectively.

They both got married to women while they were in prison.

Erik married his pen pal, Tammi Saccoman, in 1999, while Lyle has found two women willing to marry him: Anna Eriksson, a former model who divorced him after a year when she found out he had been writing to other women, and then Rebecca Sneed, a journalist who he wed in 2003.

Where are Lyle and Erik Menendez now?

At the time of the murder of their parents, Lyle and Erik Menendez were 21 and 18 respectively.

Lyle and Erik Menendez are unlikely to leave prison in California where they are serving their sentence as Joseph Lyle Menendez, now 53, and Erik Galen Menendez, now 50, remain behind bars at the San Diego facility.

The brothers are both apparently “Group A” prisoners who have earned special privileges that enabled them to even marry while in prison.



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