Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Erik Menendez, left, and Lyle Menendez. (California Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation through AP)

I’ve not thought a lot concerning the Menendez brothers, Lyle and Erik, since they had been convicted in 1996 of murdering their mother and father, Jose and Kitty, of their Beverly Hills mansion.

On the time of the killings, Lyle was 21 and Erik was 18.

The prosecution contended they had been grasping, spoiled brats attempting to get their arms on their mother and father’ fortune. The protection argued that they had been severely abused by their father, who was enabled by their mom, they usually had been in worry for his or her lives.

The household’s terrible story was one chapter of a very traumatic period in Los Angeles, the place the prison justice system appeared strained to its limits, the place controversies about systemic racism, privilege, home violence and equity raged over the airwaves, at dinner tables and round water coolers.

I might go as far as to say that the Nineteen Nineties in L.A. primarily started on the August evening in 1989 when the Menendez brothers sneaked up on their mother and father and blew them away with shotguns because the couple watched TV and ate ice cream. Six months later, the brothers, who had managed to spend greater than $1 million of their mother and father’ cash within the interim, had been below arrest.

A yr later, George Holliday videotaped the savage beating of motorist Rodney King by LAPD officers, and the officers’ acquittals sparked days of fires, looting and convulsive violence.

In 1994 — the identical yr two Menendez juries, one for every younger man, deadlocked between manslaughter and homicide convictions — Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman had been slashed to dying in Brentwood. After a unstable trial, Simpson’s ex-husband, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the slayings in 1995.

The second Menendez trial, this time with one jury, additionally started in 1995. The identical choose who had earlier allowed the protection to name 50 witnesses and current proof of abuse, restricted testimony that may have supported an “abuse excuse” within the second trial. That sealed the brothers’ destiny. They had been convicted of first-degree homicide in March 1996 and have been in jail for 33 years.

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Learn extra: From the Archives: Claims of Hatred, Abuse Traded in Menendez Case

I might keep that this convulsive period got here to an finish the next yr, when a civil jury in Santa Monica discovered Simpson chargeable for the deaths of his ex-wife and her good friend.

I’m telling you, it was an emotional and exhausting time on this metropolis. Nothing any of us would need to relive.

However attitudes towards home violence and intercourse abuse have modified. New proof concerning the Menendez household has come to gentle, and now, after resigning themselves to dying in jail, the brothers are hoping the case shall be reopened.

A petition filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courtroom in Could describes two new items of related proof that corroborate Lyle and Erik’s claims that their father was an abusive monster and their mom did nothing to cease him.

One is a letter written by 13-year-old Erik to his cousin discussing his father’s abuse. “I by no means know when it’s going to occur and it’s driving me loopy,” Erik wrote to his cousin, Andy Cano. “Each evening I keep up pondering he would possibly are available.”

Learn extra: New proof could again Menendez brothers’ sexual abuse claims. However can it free them?

The second is a declare by Roy Rosselló, a former member of the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, that Jose Menendez, who was chief government of RCA Information on the time, raped him when he was 13.

A choose has but to rule on the brothers’ petition, which asks for both an evidentiary listening to or that the convictions and sentences be vacated.

(Rosselló has additionally alleged that Menudo’s founder, Edgardo Díaz, repeatedly raped him between 1983 and 1986, when he was a member of the group. The LAPD confirmed to my colleague Salvador Hernandez that Díaz is below investigation for an incident that Rosselló says occurred on the Biltmore Resort, the place he says Díaz attacked him. Rosselló’s sordid story and Menudo’s connection to Jose Menendez is explored in a strong new three-part docuseries “Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed” by veteran journalists Robert Rand, creator of “The Menendez Murders,” and Nery Ynclan. )

Rand has been writing concerning the Menendez case for the reason that day after the murders, and has developed shut ties with the brothers’ prolonged household, most of whom consider that Lyle and Erik have served lengthy sufficient. It was Rand who found the letter, written by Erik, that will play a task in reopening the case.

Learn extra: Menendez brothers cite documentary as proof it is time they had been freed; petition filed

“They’d have been out a very long time in the past in the event that they’d had a good trial,” stated Kitty Menendez’s older sister, Joan VanderMolen, 91, who lives in Ventura. In “Menendez + Menudo,” she and her daughter Diane talk about why Erik appeared bereft as a baby when there have been no lemons in the home. “It was to get the style of semen out of his mouth,” Joan says, in one of many docuseries’ extra stunning moments.

“I liked my sister dearly,” VanderMolen advised me final week, “and it is troublesome to speak about her, however someway she managed to let this husband of hers rule the roost and beat the youngsters. She needed to know.”

She speaks to her nephews commonly by cellphone at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility close to San Diego, the place they had been allowed to be collectively after 22 years aside. “They’d a horrible childhood,” she stated. “Cash had nothing to do with it.”

Who desires to dip again into the malaise of L.A. within the Nineteen Nineties? Not me. However all these years later, with insights from the #MeToo motion too contemporary to disregard and new proof at hand, reopening the case towards Erik and Lyle Menendez looks like the appropriate factor to do.


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This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Occasions.

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