6 Surprising Facts about the Menendez Case

Before OJ Simpson created the Trial of the Century, there was the Menendez Brothers.

Lyle and Erik Menendez

On 20th August, 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez shot their parents Jose and Kitty in their own home, catapulting the brothers into infamy as two notorious murderers.

But what salacious facts occurred in this case? Read on to find out more.

1. Erik and Lyle made it look like a Mafia attack

When Lyle and Erik called the police, they screamed that their parents had been shot, and pinned the whole thing on a Mafia hit. Upon arriving, the police were met with a grisly scene. Both parents had been shot a total of 15 times. Jose was shot in the back of the head, nearly decapitating him, and Kitty was shot in the left cheek - blasting away her nose and eye and leaving her unrecognisable. To cover their tracks, the brothers shot both parents in the kneecaps, similar to a Mafia hit, to fool police. However, upon closer inspection, the police realised this was an overkill - an attack fuelled by emotion rather than the handiwork of the Mafia.


2. They grieved by spending $700,000 on luxury items

Initially, the brothers were very convincing in their grief. So much so that police allowed the brothers to console each other, rather than testing them for gunshot residue.
In fact, they were not formally interviewed by police until two months later.

However, later the brothers did not hide their grieving well. In fact, they started to spend their inheritance lavishly - between $500,000 and $700,000 in fact. They bought themselves a Porche, a Jeep Wrangler, a Rolex, restaurants, and even an expensive tennis coach for Erik's burgeoning tennis career.

Needless to say, these splurges attracted police attention.


3. Jose Menendez's edited will was deleted

Prior to his death, Jose Menendez had updated his will. Reportedly he had changed the $14 million estate and inheritance, so Lyle and Erik received less. Not long after their parents deaths, Lyle confided to a friend that he'd deleted the updated will after he had found it on Jose's computer.

Deleting the will would be used against the brothers during their court case.


4. Erik confessed his crimes to his psychiatrist

Erik began to unravel two months later, and decided to see psychologist L. Jerome Oziel. In Oziel's office, Erik began to admit his involvement in the murders.

Once Lyle learned of this confession, he confronted Oziel in his office, threatening to kill him if he reported the brothers to police. However, that didn't quite work. Later, Oziel's mistress, Judalon Smyth listened in on the confessions from the waiting room, and recorded the whole thing.


5. It took 2 trials and 3 juries to convict them.

The defence put together a convincing case, one filled with mental and emotional abuse. They argued that both Lyle and Erik were physically and sexually abused by their parents - including incidents involving punching, belt-whipping, and molestation. The attorneys claimed that the murders were an act of self-defence after years of abuse.

The brothers even had separate juries and, when it came down to a decision, both juries were hung - meaning a retrial was needed.

This time, the jury game to a verdict of guilty, but spared the brothers of the death penalty. Instead, they were sentenced to life without parole.


6. Their crimes would inspire TV storylines

Prior to his arrest, Erik and his friend Craig Cignarelli reportedly created a 66-page screenplay called Friends, in which the main character kills five people - including their parents. Not long later, a burgeoning new TV series, Beverly Hills 90210 featured an eerily familiar storyline. Roger Azarian (guest starred by Matthew Perry) is a straight A student and tennis star - but he has a troubled relationship with his father. Later, he confides to Brandon that he has written a screenplay, and lets Brandon read it over. Brandon then believes that art is imitating reality, and that Roger wants to murder his father. Roger reveals his growing resent for his overbearing father and has even confided in his therapist. Sound familiar? In this case, Roger is eventually admitted into a psychiatric facility, but it was a close one.