Picture Supply: NBC
The brand new Law & Order collection, True Crime, is specializing in the notorious trial of brothers Erik and Lyle Menendez, who fired 15 shotgun rounds into their mother and father in 1989 in Beverly Hills. On the collection, Erik has been alleging that his father repeatedly raped him rising up, and on the newest episode, Lyle claims he was additionally abused – by each mother and father.
Completely different characters have various ranges of perception within the boys’ claims, although the protection crew simply discovered sexually express photographs of the brothers, taken after they had been younger youngsters, and it seems to have gotten the entire crew on board with the boys’ protection.
However had been the Menendez brothers actually abused? And what did their court docket protection actually seem like?
To date, the present is following the real-life events pretty intently. The brothers’ lawyer, Leslie Abramson, by no means tried to behave just like the boys did not commit the murders; she mentioned at a pretrial listening to that they’d not dispute that truth. As an alternative, she mounted a vigorous protection that hinged on the boys enduring a lifetime of abuse from their father, whom she additionally known as a pedophile. Abramson additionally mentioned the mom was an unstable alcoholic who turned a blind eye to the abuses and even typically dedicated abuse of her personal.
The massive impediment Abramson confronted was that there was no historical past of abuse that could possibly be demonstrated in court docket, i.e. speaking to a psychologist in regards to the abuse, pictures of accidents, or medical charts recording the abuse. So Abramson enlisted Paul Mones, a youngsters’s rights advocate who authored the e book When a Child Kills: Abused Children Who Kill Their Parents. Mones says that his analysis confirmed that youngsters like this have a tendency to endure in silence till they snap and combat again, typically to the purpose of overkill, like taking pictures an abuser over and over (which the Menendez brothers did).
Abramson and her co-council, Jill Lansing, additionally alleged that the brothers had confronted their mother and father in regards to the abuse shortly earlier than the murders and that their father threatened to kill them, so that they felt like they’d no selection however to kill their mother and father first.
Picture Supply: Kim Kulish / AFP / Getty
One witness for the protection was the brothers’ cousin, Diane Vander Molen, who testified that the brothers instructed her in regards to the abuse again in 1976, when Lyle was simply eight years previous. In a 2017 interview with ABC News, Vander Molen mentioned she believed Lyle as a result of she might see his concern was actual, however she by no means mentioned something to anybody as a result of she instructed their mom about it and assumed the mom had taken care of it.
“In hindsight, I want that I might have been stronger about what Lyle was telling me so I might have carried out one thing to assist them,” she mentioned. Vander Molen additionally mentioned she believed their story about why they killed their mother and father.
“I do know that they’d by no means, ever have carried out what they did except they felt that they’d no selection – that it was both them or their mother and father. I imagine that very strongly,” mentioned Vander Molen.
Along with their cousin, each boys took the stand to element the years of alleged abuse. Lyle’s testimony was emotional and filled with particulars, whereas Erik’s was all over. The prosecution identified a number of inconsistencies in his story, like the truth that the shop the place he mentioned they purchased the weapons (which he alleged had been for the brothers’ safety out of concern for his or her lives) stopped carrying weapons three years earlier than the murders had been dedicated.
There was additionally a dangerous confession tape the place Lyle will be heard discussing murdering his mother and father as if it was no massive deal, whereas Erik cried within the background. There is no such thing as a reference to any sexual abuse on the tape.
After the primary trial led to hung juries for each brothers, they had been retried and that point convicted on two counts of first-degree homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide. The jury within the penalty part mentioned that they believed the brothers weren’t abused however had killed their mother and father to achieve management of the household’s appreciable wealth. The brothers are at present serving life sentences, in a jail in Ione, CA, for Lyle and a jail in San Diego, CA, for Erik.
As for the NBC present, the producers make no bones about who they imagine. Talking with critics on the 2017 TCA summer season press tour, govt producer Dick Wolf stated outright that this present “has an agenda.”
“It is completely horrible, however once you see the knowledge, I feel persons are going to comprehend nicely, yeah, they did it, but it surely wasn’t first-degree homicide with no chance of parole,” mentioned Wolf. “They most likely ought to have been out eight or 10 years in the past as a result of they need to have been convicted of first-degree manslaughter, which is a distinct punishment than first-degree homicide.”
He later added that the present District Legal professional in Los Angeles was determined for a win after the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson trials, so there “had been main mitigating circumstances” within the Menendez case that the typical viewer could not learn about.