Born in New York City on January 10, 1968, Lyle Menendez and his younger brother, Erik, grew up with wealth and privilege under the tight rein of a domineering father. In 1989, Lyle's parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, were found shot to death in their home, and Lyle and Erik were arrested for the crime. The prosecution sought the death penalty, but following a mistrial, the Menendez brothers were both sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Joseph Lyle Menendez was born in New York City on January 10, 1968. Menendez and his younger brother, Erik, grew up with wealth and privilege under the tight rein of a domineering father. An average student, Lyle was an outsider in school and soon developed a wicked temper and sociopathic tendencies. Among other things, he was found guilty of plagiarism in college, and was arrested for stealing from the homes of his parents' friends.
In August 1989, Lyle's parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, were found shot to death in their Beverly Hills home. Lyle had been the one to call 911 to report the murders. After the death of their parents, the Menendez brothers didn't act like children in mourning, however. They soon started spending some of the family's fortune. Lyle bought himself a Rolex watch and a Porsche sports car among other high-ticket items.
The reality of their crimes, however, weighed heavily on his brother Erik. Erik Menendez confessed to the killings to his therapist, and Lyle later met with Erik and the therapist to discuss the situation. Lyle reportedly threatened to kill the therapist if he even told anyone what the brothers did. Erik's therapist did tell what happened to a girlfriend, and she later alerted authorities.
The Menendez brothers were eventually arrested in 1990 for the killings. Some of the therapist's tapes were admitted into evidence against Lyle and Erik after a lengthy legal battle. In July 1993, Lyle and Erik were tried by different juries, each claiming self-defense for the murders. They claimed that they had survived years of psychological and sexual abuse.
The brutal family killings had gripped the nation, and the story of the Menendez brothers became a popular subject for news and magazine articles. Dominic Dunne wrote extensively about their case in Vanity Fair. The lives and crimes of the brothers also inspired several television movies in the mid-1990s.
The prosecution sought the death penalty, and in January 1994, mistrials were declared when neither jury could reach a verdict. The retrial took place in October 1995, when both brothers were tried by one jury. In March 1996, Lyle and Erik were both found guilty of first-degree murder. They avoided the death penalty, and were both sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Life in Prison
Soon after his conviction, Lyle Menendez was separated from his brother Erik. He married Anna Eriksson, a pen pal and former model, in 1997, but their union didn't last. The pair divorced after about a year. In 2003, Menendez had his second wedding behind bars. This time he wed magazine editor Rebecca Sneed.
Unlike his brother Erik, Lyle Menendez has remained largely quiet while serving his life sentence. He is an inmate at the Mule Creek State Prison, in Ione, California. According to a 2012 People magazine article, Menendez spends time lifting weights, playing basketball and caring for his pet lizard.
Since his 1996 conviction, Lyle Menendez has fought for a new trial. He and his brother's legal efforts reached the California Supreme Court in 1998, but the court denied their request. The justices refused to review the Menendez brothers' case. The brothers then appealed to a federal court, which turned them down again in 2005. It appears that Menendez will likely spend the rest of his days in a California prison.
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