Looks like Erik and Lyle Menendez should get comfy behind bars — because they aren’t going any where any time soon. There are few cases that rocked the nation quite like the Menendez Brother’s trial in the early ‘90s. In fact, the case — which began on Aug. 20, 1989, the day they shot and killed their parents José and Kitty — still captivates people to this day, which is why the gruesome murder is being revisited for Dick Wolf’s new series Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers, which will use actors — including Edie Falco — to retell the chilling murder and subsequent trial that followed.
With all the renewed focus on the case, many are wondering if there’s any chance of Lyle and Erik — who today are 49 and 46, respectively — ever seeing the light of day outside of prison. But it turns out the chances of that are unlikely. When the trial wrapped on July 2, 1996, both brothers were given life in prison without the possibility of parole. And since then, the two have been serving their sentences in separate prison facilities in the state of California.
So why did Erik and Lyle kill their parents? When the boys first confessed to killing their wealthy parents, many felt they were after the lofty inheritance that they stood to inherit following their parents’ deaths — and their unusual behavior afterwards (which included spending significant sums of money) seemed to support people’s theories.
However, the brothers have since claimed that they suffered years of sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of their entertainment exec father and they felt that murder was the only way to break the cycle. “I’ve sort of made peace with who my father was. He had a sickness and I’ve forgiven him, but I don’t know if he’s forgiven me,” Lyle said in a rare interview given earlier this year. “I don’t know if my mother forgives me, but I have definitely struggled mightily to find a peaceful place to forgive her.”
The fictional Erik and Lyle Menendez on Law & Order True Crime.
While Lyle made it clear he has his regrets about the murders — calling them “the most astounding and regrettable thing that has happened in my life” — he said he understands that people have their doubts about the abuse claims. He continued, “There’s always going to be skepticism. People think I just hopped up on the witness stand and told a story that a sleazy defense attorney made up. But many people knew there was sexual abuse in this family.”
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.