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Crime News Blood & Money

Erik and Lyle Menendez's Childhood Friend Shares This Regret About Their Relationship

Erik and Lyle Menendez's childhood friend spoke to Oxygen.com about his memories of the brothers. 

By Cydney Contreras

The Menendez brothers have spent more time behind bars than they have outside of them.

How to Watch

Watch Blood & Money on Peacock and catch up on the Oxygen App.

Erik and Lyle Menendez were arrested in March 1990, less than a year after their parents Jose and Kitty Menendez were found dead in the family's Beverly Hills mansion. Six years later, in March 1996, a jury convicted the brothers of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The case has been the subject of much debate as the brothers claimed self-defense in court — they said they feared for their lives, having allegedly been sexually abused and threatened by their father Jose — but juries were not able to consider charges of manslaughter. Some feel sympathy for the men, while others think justice was served.

Retired Beverly Hill Detective Sgt. Thomas Edmonds falls into the latter category. "They got what they deserved for a vicious crime where two people got murdered," he said in Oxygen's "Blood & Money."

But Erik and Lyle's childhood friend John Burnett told Oxygen.com digital correspondent Stephanie Gomulka that he's among those who can't help but feel bad for the brothers. As he said, "I wish life had turned out differently for them."

Burnett met the boys when he started attending Princeton Day School in New Jersey, saying they became "fast friends." Like Erik and Lyle, Burnett's family took sports seriously, giving them something to bond over.

On first impression, he said the Menendezs seemed like your run-of-the-mill family, describing Erik as a "good friend" and Lyle as "your typical older brother."

"From what I saw of it, it seemed pretty normal," Burnett remembered. "Nothing atypical from my perspective. I didn't see anything that made you go, what's going on here?"

Eventually, the Menendez family moved to Beverly Hills, California, where Kitty and Jose would later be murdered. They were both shot in the head with shotguns.

Lyle and Erik Menendez

Upon hearing the news, Burnett said he was shocked. "It took me back. I tried to piece together things that I look back on — times where I spent the night at their house — and tried to identify something to try and say, did I miss something? Did I miss a sign of something going on?" Burnett shared.

He continued, "I don't have memories of anything that made me question something or put a red flag in my head."  

As Erik and Lyle stood trial in their parents' deaths, Burnett kept in touch, once visiting Erik while he was incarcerated in 1993. And then, after the brothers were convicted, Burnett stopped speaking to them entirely. He admitted, "That's played a role, in terms of like, what you would call a guilty conscience on my part."

To learn more about the case, watch Oxygen's "Blood & Money," streaming now on Oxygen.com.