Jose Menendez, who was born in Havana Cuba, was living a good life in Beverly Hills, California, until the night of infinite sleep came to him through his sons Erik and Lyle, popularly known as the Menendez brothers, as they killed him and his wife Kitty in their house in August 1989.
Before moving further, one should know the background of the story for a better understanding of the case and what is the motive that led to this horrific event.
Early Life And Background Of Menendez Brothers
Jose moved to America when he was 16 due to the unrest of revolution in Cuba in 1960. He took admitted to southern Illinois university, where he met his girlfriend Kitty. The couple later got married in 1963 and moved to New York City. Here, Jose got a degree in accounting from Queens College and did a part-time dishwashing job for earning.
Kitty gave birth to her first son, Lyle, in 1968 and after some time the family moved to New Jersey. Kitty left her job for the son’s upbringing. In 1970, Erik was born to a couple and their family was completed. The boys attended Princeton Day School for their initial schooling.
The family spent well time in Jersey until Jose got a corporate executive job, so they decided to move to California. Erik attended Beverly Hills High School, he was average in marks but a good player in Tennis. Jose sent Lyle to Princeton university and later he was expelled for misconduct and went back to his parents in Beverly Hills.
Everything seemed good for the family but the day of the litmus test for their story came suddenly, on the night of August 20, 1989, the parents were in their house alone and the boys entered the house after some time but they were not alone as they carried 12-gauge shotgun with them. They purchased the gun with some false ID, which was later caught by police. Two brothers attacked their parents in a gangster manner and unleash their accumulated anger and envy on their parents. They shot Jose and Kitty many times until the last breath of the couple arrived.
The brothers called the cops after the cold-blooded murder and convinced them that this was the doing of some goons as they were in a movie theatre at the time of this incident. Their alibi seemed so strong to the police and left the investigating officers on a wild chase.
The human behavior sometimes rouses some suspicion, both Erik and Lyle spent around 700,000$ in a few months on their fancy luxury after this hatred crime. Lyle opened a restaurant, purchased a Porsche, and a Rolex and Erik bought a Jeep wrangler for himself and got a lifetime Tennis coach for himself with this money.
Police investigated some mobs lead during their chase and doubted those suspects, who had the motive to kill the Menendez couple. But as above mentioned the brother’s lifestyle drew the suspicious eyes of cops and they ended with custody of Lyle Menendez in 1990. After a while, Erik also gave him to the police.
Trial Of Menendez Brothers
This hearing of the case was live telecasted in 1993 and it was discussed and watched in every American household and became a sensational case of 90s. The defense counsel, Abramson, argued that the Menendez brothers had been abused mentally, and sexually by their father since their childhood, therefore the boys committed this crime out of anger and sorrow which was given by their father to them. The prosecutor argued against this and told the court that the uttermost motive was the wealth of their parents, so they killed them for the inheritance of their father’s will and luxury.
The cops found the tape, which was the recording of sessions between Erik and his psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Oziel, in this tape Erik was confessing the murder of their parents to the doctor. Some lady, named Judalon Smyth, the girlfriend of the psychiatrist leaked this confidential tape of Dr. Oziel. When the pressure of breach of contract of patient’s privacy reached to the psychiatrist, he told the judges that Lyle tried to threaten him to keep their secret and violated the confidential contract. Later Oziel gave testimony against the brothers and the court admitted some parts of the tape as evidence.
In 1992 the jury of Los Angeles County charged the Menendez brothers with the murder of Jose and Kitty. Investigators took the help of Erik’s friend Craig to make him confess but he denied killing his parents. The suspicion of murder grew strong when police found a screenplay, written by Erik and his friend which contained the story of murder. Police found an interesting similarity between the real crime and the screenplay.
The brothers sobbed during the hearing and told the jury about their spoiled and abusive life and how their paedophiliac father tortured them since childhood. One of the cousins of brothers told the ABC News that” when Lyle was 8 and she was 17, she found out about the abuse, through Lyle, and later she told Kitty about that but the mother refused to believe this story.”
During the second trial, on July 2, 1996, the jury sentenced the Menendez brothers to life imprisonment without parole. In the following years, they filed many Habeas Corpus petitions in the Supreme court of California and later in the United States Court of Appeals but all were rejected by their respective courts.
Brothers In Jail
When the sentence began, they were sent to different prisons and they remained separate until 2018, this time Lyle moved to Richard J. Donovan correctional facility in San Diego County, Erik was already in there and after some time they both moved to the same section.
Menendez brothers saw each other after 22 years, after the beginning of the sentence. They met with numb eyes and hugged each other desperately. They got married at the beginning of their jail time.
Lyle told ABC News in 2017 that” I accept that you generally defined by a few moments of your life, but that’s not what you are in your life, your life is the totality of it….you are stuck with the decisions you made.”
References Of The Menendez Brothers In Pop Culture
They have been mentioned in many films and series and many documentaries have featured their case. They were featured in ABC, Buzz Feed Unsolved, and Snapped. Some social media handles supported them last year on Tik-Tok and trended with #FreeMenendezBrothers.
The 1994 film Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills, Law & Order series, portrayed their case and introduced them to mass media.