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The Menendez Brothers: Fighting for Freedom – Exclusive Prison Interview

Lyle and Erik Menendez have already spent nearly 34 years behind bars for gunning down their parents in 1989.

Now they’re awaiting a judge’s decision on whether new evidence can support their claim that they killed in self-defense and should have been convicted of manslaughter instead of murder.

Lyle Menendez gives his side of the story to contributor Natalie Morales from prison in 48 HOURS: “The Menendez Brothers’ Fight for Freedom” to be broadcast Saturday, March 2 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+.

The Menendez Brothers’ Fight for Freedom

In a case that captured worldwide attention, the Menendez brothers were tried and convicted of murdering their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez. The couple was shot to death in their Beverly Hills mansion on Aug. 20, 1989.

At first, Lyle and Erik weren’t even on investigators’ radar. They later confessed to the killings in therapy. When the brothers went on trial, they claimed that they killed in self-defense after a lifetime of physical, emotional and sexual abuse suffered at the hands of their parents.

“There’s just never been a case of guilt or innocence,” Lyle Menendez tells Morales. “It was always about why it happened.”

Prosecutors pointed out that when the brothers confessed in therapy, they did not mention abuse or self-defense. Lyle Menendez tells 48 HOURS the reason they didn’t come forward at the time was complicated. “Just shame. Just not wanting it to be public,” Menendez says.

Although the brothers were first tried together, there were two separate juries deciding their fate. After weeks of deliberation, a mistrial was declared with both juries divided on whether Lyle and Erik should be convicted of murder or manslaughter. When they were tried again, one jury would hear the case.

Prosecutors argued that the brothers were lying about being abused and were able to convince a judge to exclude some of the evidence of alleged abuse. That’s when they were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The case is back in the news because in 2023, a former member of the boy band Menudo alleged that he was also sexually abused by Jose Menendez. Menendez was an executive at RCA Records at the time, which signed Menudo to a recording contract.

“Thirty-four years of incarceration,” Lyle Menendez says, “you wonder … when will there be a fair review of this? … So, maybe now.”

Cliff Gardner represents the Menendez brothers. Gardner tells 48 HOURS, “We now have evidence that … makes absolutely clear that those boys were molested. And if those boys were molested … It would’ve been manslaughter, and they would be out.”

“Did you or Erik think that another person would accuse your father of child molestation?” Morales asks. Lyle Menendez responds, “I did not … I could not believe it.”



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