New evidence could spring Erik and Lyle Menendez from life in prison. The brothers — who shot dead parents José and Kitty Menendez in 1989 after allegedly enduring years of abuse — are awaiting a judge’s appeal decision based on two new pieces of evidence: a claim by a former Menudo singer that record exec José raped him as a teen, and a newly discovered letter Erik, 53, sent a cousin before the killings in which he wrote of being molested. 

“I still have a chance to be a productive person,” Lyle, 56, said in a collect call from prison to his attorney, Mark Geragos, during a live CrimeCon panel in June. Lyle added he’s pursuing a master’s in urban planning after earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Irvine.

Lyle and Erik Menendez became household names in the late 1980s after they murdered their parents in their Beverly Hills homes with shotguns. They brothers claimed they feared for their lives after threatening to expose their father’s alleged physical and sexual abuse

They were each convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole. They were placed in separate prisons until 2018 when the brothers were reunited at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California. 

Now, more than three decades after the death of their parents, numerous family members have signed a letter asking the judge to resentence the men. According to Cliff Gardner, one of their lawyers, Lyle and Erik should have been convicted of manslaughter instead of first degree murder. 

“The boys were abused as children. They were abused their whole life. … And this is a manslaughter case, not a murder case. It’s just that simple,” Gardner said during a 48 Hours interview. 

In a rare update, Lyle opened up about his life goals during a live phone call with Laura Ingle at the Nashville event. 

“I’ve had these discussions with corrections officials who are in charge of letting formerly incarcerated people return to the prisons to do good work and they are definitely open to and would like me to continue to work on this idea of transforming prison yards so that it creates living environments and communities that produce better neighbors,” he said, adding that a lot of prisoners “had difficult childhoods and come from difficult circumstances.”

He went on to thank his supporters and the “enormous number of people around the world and around the country who have written my brother and I or visited the Facebook created for victims to express themselves on through my family’s help and just express gratitude for their support, their belief that we should be given a second chance.”

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