It’s been more than 27 years since Erik and Lyle Menendez murdered their parents in August 1989. The infamous double homicide of Kitty and Jose Menendez is being revisited in A&E’s The Menendez Murders: Erik Tells All. On the Dec. 21 episode of the docuseries, Erik, 47 — who hasn’t spoken about his and Lyle’s brutal crime since 2005 — revealed the strange connection he and his brother had to O.J. Simpson.
According to Erik, he and Lyle, 49, crossed paths with O.J., 70, long before any of them were accused of murder. "My dad worked at Hertz and it's at Hertz they started the campaign with O.J. Simpson and O.J. would come over to the house," Erik said on the show. "I remember him in the background tossing the football with Lyle. It was a big deal that this larger-than-life personality was over there and that's when I first got to know O.J. as one of those childhood heroes.”
As true crime enthusiasts are well aware, O.J. was arrested for the murders of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994, and spent a relatively short amount of time in jail. And it just so happened that O.J.’s brief prison stint meant a reunion for the disgraced NFL player and Erik.
"He gets arrested, the door pops open at the end of the hall and there's O.J.," Erik recounted. "He sees me, and says, 'Hi, Erik,' and I said, 'Hi, O.J.' and he gets put into the cell next to me. That's where he stayed for about 3 months. O.J. did not know anything about the county jail, but at that point I'd been in jail for four years. We talked about the court system and what it's like to be on trial.”
It was in jail that Erik connected O.J. with attorney Johnnie Cochran, who was friends with Erik’s lawyer, Leslie Abramson. With Johnnie’s help, O.J. was eventually found not guilty of killing Nicole and Ron after a lengthy trial that gripped the nation, which finally concluded on Oct. 3, 1995.
Though Erik and Lyle had been jailed for several years after murdering their parents, they weren’t officially sentenced to life in prison without parole until 1996. To this day, Erik believes that he and Lyle — who have claimed that they killed their parents after years of emotional and physical abuse — received harsh sentences because of the "sense of extreme injustice" many people felt over O.J.’s verdict. “[It] had a very negative effect on our case,” the younger Menendez brother said.
Nine years ago, O.J. was sent to a Nevada prison on armed robbery charges. He was sentenced to 33 years for his crime, but was granted parole back in July. He was released in October. Days after his release, the former athlete was reportedly thrown out of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas after allegedly getting drunk and acting belligerent.
The Menendez Brothers: Erik Tells All airs on A&E Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST.