1 minute read

Menendez Brothers' Trials: 1993-94 & 1995-96

Organized Crime Hit?, Testimonials Of Sexual Abuse, Cold-blooded Killers?, Battle Over Incriminating Tape

Defendants: Lyle and Erik Menendez
Crimes Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: First trial: Leslie Abramson, Jill Lansing; second trial: Leslie Abramson, Jill Lansing, Barry Levin
Chief Prosecutor: First trial: Pamela Bozanich; second trial: David Conn
Judge: Both trials: Stanely M. Weisberg
Place: Both Trials: Los Angeles, California
Dates of Trials: First trial: July 20, 1993-January 28, 1994; second trial: August 23, 1995-March 20, 1996
Verdict: First trial: Mistrial; second trial: guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstances
Sentence: 2 consecutive life sentences for both Lyle and Erik Memendez

SIGNIFICANCE: The Menendez brothers' trials, claiming self-defense for brutally murdering their parents after enduring years of sexual and emotional abuse, revealed another, more sinister, motive for their crime: a vast inheritance upon their parents' death.

On the evening of August 20, 1989, with bowls of strawberries and ice cream in their laps, entertainment magnate Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty, were watching television in the den of their Beverly Hills mansion. Unexpectedly, their sons Lyle and Eric allegedly burst through the door with 12-gauge shotguns, killing their parents. Bizarre as it may sound, this bloody "fact" would be the least disputed feature of one of the most controversial court battles of the decade.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994