The case of Erik and Lyle Menendez, who murdered their parents in 1989, has become one of the most notorious killings in the United States. And on April 6th, the Menendez brothers were reunited behind bars for the first time in years. And with these killers in the news again, we can’t help but wonder: Will the Menendez brothers ever be released from prison?
The Menendez murders took place on August 20th, 1989. That night, while Kitty and Jose Menendez relaxed in the living room of their mansion at 722 North Elm Drive in Beverly Hills, their two sons shot them multiple times. Initially, 21-year-old Lyle and 18-year-old Erik weren’t suspected of the gruesome murders. Instead, rumors swirled that the mob was responsible for their parents’ deaths. In 1990, the boys were arrested after it was revealed that they had confessed their crime to a therapist. And in 1996, after two trials in front of three juries, they were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
But in the 22 years since their conviction, the brothers have tried to appeal the court’s decision multiple times.
Erik and Lyle have maintained that they murdered their parents as a means of escaping from years of sexual abuse by their father, and this argument about their motive is why the juries at their first trial were so conflicted.
So far, the brothers’ appeals have not been granted. But in 2016, a new California law passed that enabled Erik and Lyle to make another appeal. The law stated that those who were convicted of a crime after being forbidden from offering evidence of abuse could appeal. And because the judge at the Menendez brothers’ second trial prevented them from using the abuse allegations as a defense, they were eligible to appeal their case again.
However, despite the 2016 law, the Menendez brothers have not yet been granted a new trial based on this appeal, and they may never be. So will Erik and Lyle ever be released? It’s possible, but for now, at least, it doesn’t seem likely.