The Menendez brothers were convicted of killing their parents in 1989. The crime scene photos from the case are gruesome and disturbing. However, they offer a unique insight into the mind of a killer. If you’re interested in seeing the Menendez brothers crime scene photos, you can find them online. Just be warned, they are not for the faint of heart.
Why the Menendez brothers killed their parents ?
In their Beverly Hills residence on August 20, 1989, José and Mary “Kitty” Menendez was murdered. Lyle and Erik Menendez, their sons, were found guilty of their murders and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after nearly seven years, three trials, and thousands of hours of television coverage. In the interim, the Menendez murders rose to prominence as one of the most well-known homicide cases of the late 20th century as a result of a potent concoction of family drama, Hollywood connections, compelling testimony, and cable TV’s capacity to cover it extensively.
José, a Cuban immigrant, rose through the ranks.
By 1980s standards, the Menendez family appeared to be the epitome of the American dream. José was born in Cuba and moved to the US following the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s, where he lived in a cousin’s attic until he was awarded a swimming scholarship for college. He courted and wed Kitty, a pageant champion, and went from doing dishes to becoming a successful young executive in the entertainment industry.
When RCA Records was in its infancy in the 1980s, José was instrumental in the signing of bands like Duran Duran and The Eurythmics. The mansion in which José and Kitty were murdered was situated on one of the most prestigious streets in Beverly Hills and had previously served as a residence for both Michael Jackson and Elton John at various points in their careers. Just a few years prior to the murders, the Menendez family had relocated to Los Angeles so that José could work in the film industry.
When Lyle and Erik were shot and killed, they were 21 and 18, respectively, the prototypical children of the Reagan era in the United States. Lyle was a star tennis player at Princeton who openly admired and idolized his father, who went on to have a successful business career of his own. Erik, on the other hand, excelled in tennis thanks to his father’s relentless coaching and eventually became a nationally ranked player in his age group. Because José was known as a hard-working father who would push his children to the limit in all aspects of their lives, they had no choice but to succeed. Turnitin
Their former swim coach told the Los Angeles Times in 1990, “It seemed like José was so competitive, he was doing everything he could to try to make him better.” “However, because he was so overbearing, it had the opposite effect. Erik’s lack of confidence resulted from his constant inability to do anything well.
As soon as they arrived in the Golden State, Erik began hanging out with a group of troubled youths and was arrested several times for burglaries. Princeton University accepted Lyle but suspended him for a year because of plagiarism. This set the stage for a rocky few years ahead.
The crime itself was shocking, but the aftermath was even more so.
The Menendez murders were a heinous, barbaric crime in which José and Kitty were rendered nearly unidentifiable by 15 rounds fired from two 12-gauge shotguns. Because the killings were so brutal, police initially suspected a mob hit and focused their investigations on José’s business rivals and a porn executive with whom he had a personal beef.
Their story to the police that night was that they had gone to a movie, but they had to stop to get Erik’s ID first. In interviews, they stated that they then discovered their parents’ mutilated bodies and dialed 911. Before they entered the crime scene, the responding officers discovered Erik sobbing on the lawn.
In the months following the murders, neither brother Menendez acted like young men who had recently discovered both of their parents murdered in a brutal and bloody manner. Instead, they pretended to be two lucky lottery winners. When José died, he was worth $14 million. In the six months before he died, his brothers spent about $700,000 of his money.
Lyle, who had been living in Princeton before the murders, bought a Rolex, a Porsche, a lot of clothes, and a restaurant, while Erik, who was more sensible, chose a Jeep Wrangler, a $50,000 private tennis coach, and a $40,000 investment in a rock concert that never occurred. They, too, went on exotic vacations, believing they would receive even more money. There was also a $5 million life insurance policy on their father, but they were unable to collect it due to technicalities.
The brothers confided in their therapist, whose own turbulent personal life was later revealed to be part of the story.
Erik was ordered by the court to see a therapist named Dr. Jerome Oziel in 1988 after being caught in a series of burglaries. Soon after the murders, Erik’s therapist reached out to him and began meeting with the younger Menendez brother, and Erik confessed to killing his parents. Oziel confided in Judalon Smyth, his mistress, who would ultimately play a significant role in the case.
The therapy sessions kept going, and in the end, Oziel got both Erik and Lyle to admit to the murders on tape. Erik stated that they did it to “put their mother out of her misery,” while Lyle stated that they were both complicit in the crime.
Smyth and Oziel had a rocky relationship — she accused him of being controlling and abusive — and after he allegedly assaulted her, Smyth contacted Beverly Police to reveal that the Menendez brothers confessed to their parents’ murder. She even had a recording of the confessions.
Soon after, Lyle was arrested. At the time he was in Israel, Erik flew to Miami and then Los Angeles, where he turned himself into the police.
It took two years to figure out whether the tapes with the confessions were protected by doctor-patient privilege or admissible as evidence in court, with lawsuits and appeals flying back and forth between the prosecution and Menendez’s lawyers. Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled that two of the three tapes could be used in the trial, including one containing Lyle’s admission of guilt.
The trials were a national sensation, complete with heinous details.
The trial started in 1993, and it was shown on a cable network called Court TV, which was just getting started and was trying to make the court system a mix of entertainment and sports. The network showed not only the trial but also hours and hours of coverage before and after each day’s events. This helped the country become obsessed with a case that had all the elements of a great primetime soap opera: a rich family torn apart by scandal, two handsome and mysterious young men, a horrible crime, and a lot of psychodrama.
For better or worse, the Menendez trial showed that even without a well-known figure, if the circumstances were dramatic enough, people would be fascinated, said Steve Brill, the founder of Court TV, to Rolling Stone in 2017. Since then, we’ve had many similar trials, but this one proved that people would be interested in watching large trials.
Their father’s reign of terror went far beyond the emotional abuse and high expectations that Lyle and Erik were subjected to, they claimed. They claimed José had molested them since they were young. Their allegations, which included graphic descriptions, shocked the country and caused friction between friends and family members.
Their lawyer, Leslie Abramson, who became famous during the trial, said that the two were acting in self-defence because they had grown up in a violent and traumatic home. Lyle provided gruesome testimony. Years later, a cousin spoke with ABC News and said that she had believed his story because he had told her similar things when he was younger. Additionally, the defence painted Kitty as a victim of José’s numerous affairs, a broken wife and mother, an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a useless husk of a woman.
In the first trial, which lasted for four and a half months, there were two hung juries—one for each brother—because the juries couldn’t decide whether the brothers had committed murder or had acted in self-defence. They were immediately told that a new trial would be held.
The second trial, which took place in 1995, was much less noteworthy because the judge forbade TV cameras from entering the courtroom. People who were still curious about what happened to the Menendez Brothers had to wait until they were covered in written news reports. Oddly enough, Judalon Smyth asserted Dr Oziel had coerced the brothers into confessing during his defence testimony this time. In 1996, Lyle and Erik were both convicted of first-degree murder after a failed attempt to avoid the death penalty. They were given life without parole sentence. They were separated and sent to different prisons until 2018 when they were brought back together and permitted to serve their sentences in the same institution.
Each brother has wed women from the outside while they were both incarcerated. Erik married Tammi Saccoman, a pen pal, in 1999, while Lyle has found two women who will marry him: Rebecca Sneed, a journalist who he married in 2003, and Anna Eriksson, a former model who divorced him after learning he was writing to other women.
Even after 30 years since the first murders, the brothers’ crime still fascinates and baffles people. The murders have been the subject of numerous TV movies, miniseries, and documentaries; they have also been parodied over time. The case brought to an end a decade of “me first” capitalism and ushered in a new period of increased true crime hype.