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‘Same Sentence as a Serial Killer’


Lyle Menendez, who is serving a life sentence along with his brother after the siblings fatally shot their parents more than 30 years ago, spoke out against his punishment in a new docuseries about the notorious case.

The four-part Menendez Brothers: Victims or Villains premiered Monday on Fox News’ streaming service Fox Nation and features new audio from imprisoned Lyle Menendez and the prosecutor in the case.

Erik and Lyle, who were ages 18 and 21 at the time, gunned down their parents Jose and Mary Louise while they watched TV in their California mansion on August 20, 1989. The brothers shot their father multiple times in the head, and as their mother tried to crawl away, Lyle shot her in the face with a shotgun.

While the brothers initially claimed that their parents’ fatal shootings were part of an organized-crime killing, they later confessed to the murders. Both brothers claimed Jose had sexually and emotionally abused them. The prosecution argued Erik and Lyle only wanted to inherit their parents’ estimated $14 million fortune.

Following a retrial in 1996, Lyle and Erik were convicted of the murders and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. In 2018, the brothers were reunited in prison and moved into the same housing unit.

Lyle, in new audio obtained for the docuseries from the convicted killer in prison, slammed their life sentence.

This was never a case about actual innocence,” Lyle said. “It’s always been a case about why this tragedy occurred and how Erik and I can ever reach a place emotionally where such a tragedy could’ve happened. And I know as an adult that sexual violence in a household creates a space in which otherwise nonviolent people can do the unthinkable. And I think looking back 34 years now, and the trials, Erik and I and our family thought we were going into a manslaughter case with a district attorney that understood the traumatic impact of sexual violence creates in a person. We ended up with the same sentence as a serial killer. And every day, we watch people parole. And 34 years later, Erik and I are still watching.”

Newsweek reached out via email on Monday night to the brothers’ defense team for comment.

Menendez Brothers Fox Nation
Lyle Menendez, right, with his attorney in March 1994. Lyle and his brother Erik Menendez are serving life sentences for fatally shooting their parents in 1989.

Ted Soqui/Sygma/Getty

The Fox Nation docuseries comes after the emergence of new evidence in the case and mounting calls for the brothers to be freed from prison.

The series also features remarks from Pam Bozanich, the prosecutor for the Menendez brothers’ case, who said that Erik and Lyle were not victims and could have left home if they were truly being abused by their father.

This is not a manslaughter trial. Erik and Lyle were not victims,” Bozanich said. “And they will say, ‘oh, you know, we were scared of dad.’ Well, then go to the cops, for Christ’s sake. I mean, come on, give me a break. All they have to do is go out and work as baristas, leave the house and say, ‘Dad, we’ve had it with you. We’re going to make our own way.’ Eric and Lyle could have joined the Navy. I mean, a lot of people find that the military is a great outlet to get away from their problems. Here’s the thing. I was a sex crimes prosecutor. I knew that people got buggered by their fathers. And to turn it around and to use it as an excuse for killing your parents was just. And your mother. I was so angry at these people. I just know that I was totally pissed off through the whole thing.”

Bozanich also told Fox Nation that she still doesn’t believe Jose molested his sons as they claimed, saying they needed to “make up this sad tale of woe” in a failed bid to get the murder charges dropped to manslaughter.

I put on the fact that these two yahoos killed their parents, and I put on the fact that they killed them in cold blood with premeditation,” Bozanich said. “The facts in this case are irrefutable, except for the ones about Jose being a child molester, which I still to this day, after 34 years of thinking about it. I don’t buy it. Not at all.”

The series also features commentary from key figures in the case as well as celebrities who have pushed for the brothers’ freedom. Comedian Rosie O’Donnell, among those featured in the series, said: “There was a gross miscarriage of justice in this case.”