This Day In Crime History

August 20, 1989: The Menendez Brothers Killed Their Wealthy Parents

Watch the premiere of NBC's "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers," starring Edie Falco, on Sept. 26 at 10/9c and watch an encore on Oxygen Oct. 2 at 11/10c. 

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On August 20, 1989, the Menendez brothers brutally murdered their wealthy parents inside their Beverly Hills mansion. That evening, Jose and Kitty Menendez were tired after a long day of shark fishing on a yacht. Their sons were supposedly out for the night at the local movie theater, so they figured they’d snuggle up and watch The Spy Who Loved Me, a James Bond film. But what happened next was unimaginable.

Jose was shot point-blank in the back of the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, almost decapitating him. Kitty was first shot in the leg. Reportedly, she slipped and fell on her own blood, and was shot several more times on her face and body. In fact, Kitty, a former beauty queen, was unrecognizable after the crime. And both parents were shot in their kneecaps, an attempt to make the murder look mob-related. After the shooting, the brothers dumped their shotguns on Mulholland Drive. Lyle Menendez was 21 and his brother Erik was 18.

Even though police suspected the brothers almost immediately, they had no evidence to charge them. After the brutal murders, when one would think they'd be in mourning, the brothers spent an insane amount of their dead parent’s money. They went on trips and bought Rolex watches,  Porsche, a restaurant, and hired a full-time pro-Tennis coach. They also left their family mansion, which was an extravagant home once inhabitated by Prince and Elton John, empty, opting instead to buy penthouse apartments. Prosecutors claimed they spent a whopping $1 million in the span of the six months following their parents’ deaths.

Erik, who began to feel guilty, told his psychologist that he killed his parents, and the psychologist in turn told his girlfriend. She ultimately went to the police, which led to the arrest of Erik and Lyle in 1990.

Their trial, broadcast by Court TV in 1993, became one of the most sensational in history. During the trial, the brothers claimed they killed their parents as a response to years of abuse. After a retrail due to deadlocked juries, the Menendez brothers were both sentenced to life in prison without the possiblity of parole.

To learn more about this sensational crime, tune in to the premiere of NBC's "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers," starring Edie Falco, on Sept. 26 at 10/9c and watch an encore on Oxygen Oct. 2 at 11/10c. 

[Image: Getty Images]

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