Menendez Brothers Murder Case Under Review: District Attorney

A petition filed this week could lead to a new trial for Lyle and Erik Menendez for the 1989 murders of their parents

LA County District Attorney George Gascon is reviewing a petition for a new trial in connection with the 1989 murder in Beverly Hills of Jose and Kitty Menendez by their sons Lyle and Erik, filed by the brothers’ lawyers this week citing new evidence.

“We have received the habeas petition in the Menendez matter and it’s currently under review,” Gascon’s spokesman Greg Risling said in a statement.

This is the first response from Gascon’s office to the petition, filed in L.A. Superior Court by attorneys, Mark Geragos (co-owner of Engine Vision Media, parent company of Los Angeles) and Cliff Gardner.

According to the writ, “newly discovered evidence directly supports the defense presented at trial and just as directly undercuts the state’s case against petitioner.” The attorneys argue that the new evidence could have led to a different outcome at trial had it been presented in the brothers’ defense.

In a hand-scrawled letter to his cousin Andy Cano, discovered by the brothers’ aunt, Erik Menendez writes: “I’ve been trying to avoid dad. It’s still happening Andy but it’s worse for me now. I can’t explain it. He so overweight that I can’t stand to see him. I never know. When it’s going to happen and it’s driving me crazy. Every night, I stay up thinking he might to come. I need to put it out of my mind. I know what you said before but I’m afraid. You just don’t know dad like I do. He’s crazy! He’s warned me a hundred times about telling anyone, especially Lyle. Am I a serious whimpus? I don’t know I’ll make it through this. I can handle it, Andy. I need to stop thinking about it.”

Less than a year later, on August 20, 1989, Eric and Lyle shot and killed Jose and Kitty Menendez. Prosecutors presented the brothers as greedy, spoiled monsters who slaughtered their parents in cold blood and then went on a spending spree. Their defense countered the shootings were not murder but manslaughter, committed out of an honest though unreasonable belief in the need for self-defense after a lifetime of sexual and physical abuse.