Lyle Menendez, who, with his brother Erik, shot and killed his parents in a brutal 1989 attack, spoke with ABC News for a new documentary special, Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers – American Sons, American Murders. The special, airing Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern on ABC, features Menendez’ first interview in 20 years.
“I am the kid that did kill his parents, and no river of tears has changed that and no amount of regret has changed it,” he says calmly in this clip, released by ABC. “I accept that.”
After Jose and Kitty Menendez were found murdered in their Beverly Hills home on August 20th, 1989, police initially suggested it was a mafia hit, but suspicions soon turned to Lyle, then 21, and Erik, 18. Jose, a Cuban immigrant who had worked his way up to become a Hollywood power broker, had amassed a fortune. In the months after his death, his two sons spent their new inheritance on Rolex watches, high-end condos and expensive cars. In early 1990, Erik, consumed by guilt, confessed to his therapist that he and his brother had murdered their parents, and the two were arrested that March.
Their case quickly became the “Trial of the Century,” and the first broadcast nationwide on the newly founded Court TV. During their trial, the young men testified that they had been sexually abused by their father, a claim just believable enough to convince half a jury – their two juries (one for each defendant) were hung, resulting in a mistrial in January 1994. Their second trial was not televised, and in 1996 both were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
“It’s shocking to think … that I could have been involved in taking anyone’s life,” he told ABC in the new interview. “I found that my own childhood prepared me surprisingly well for the chaos of prison life.”
Watch how the Menendez brothers’ trial changed America.