After the brutal killings of movie executive Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty, in their Beverly Hills home on Aug. 20, 1989, it didn't take long for the suspects to confess to their crimes and eventually be arrested for the murder of the couple. And even though their two adult sons, Erik and Lyle, weren't immediately suspects, it was only a matter of time before people started to wonder: did the Menendez brothers kill their parents? Initially the suspect list ranged from intruders to even the mafia, but it was the brothers' own loose lips that would eventually do them in.
On Oct. 31, 1989, then eighteen-year-old Erik reportedly confessed to the murders, according to The New York Times, during a therapy session with his psychologist, Dr. L. Jerome Oziel, who testified in court after the confession was made. The lead prosecutor in the case, Pamela Bozanich, told the jurors that the doctor said that when Lyle heard about his brother confessing to the murders, he "became extremely agitated and informed those present that Erik's confession had been stupid and that now it would no longer be the perfect murder."
Eventually, in March of 1992, almost three years after the murders took place, the Menendez brothers were arrested for the murders of their parents, which was followed by seven years of trials to have them each convicted.
Just two days after the murders, as friends watched both Lyle and Erik Menendez exhibit calm and collected demeanors, close friend to the boys, Glenn Stevens, told the L.A. Times that when he asked Lyle how he was, the answer that came was surprising, even if he was in shock. "I’ve been waiting so long to be in this position that the transition came easily," Lyle reportedly replied. But even then, it wasn't enough to arrest the brothers on.
It is reported that during the first few months following the death of their parents, Erik and Lyle spent approximately $700,000 of their $14 million inheritance. However, at the time, even spending $60,000 on a new Porsche or $55,00 on clothing and a new Rolex wasn't enough to make the case as open and shut as it seems. In fact, after their first trial, the Menendez brothers went on to have two more before being convicted.
During their trials, the brothers admitted to killing their parents, but claimed that it had been after years of sexual abuse at the hands of both their mother and father. But with close friends of the family denying ever seeing evidence of this and with a judge declaring that the murders still wouldn't be self-defense (since when they occurred, no abuse was happening), the molestation allegations weren't very strongly considered and the claims were never proven. So on April 17, 1996, the Menendez brothers were officially convicted of killing their parents and were both sentenced to life in separate prisons without the possibility of parole.
A new documentary depicting the murders and the years of trials following them, titled, Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers — American Sons, American Murderers, will air Jan. 5 on ABC.