The Menendez brothers shocked the nation after viewers watched the highly-publicized murder trial of their parents over 20 years ago. Now, the crime is resurfacing again via NBC’s new anthology series, Law & Order: True Crime.
People reports that the first installment of the new eight-episode NBC anthology series, Law & Order: True Crime — The Menendez Brothers Murders, will center around the murders of Jose Menendez and wife Mary “Kitty” Menendez, who were killed in 1989 by their sons, Erik and Lyle Menendez.
The president of NBC Entertainment, Jennifer Salke, said that she’s been conversing with Dick Wolf, the show’s executive producer, on how to create a series about a true crime that made national headlines, and how to re-create the scenes and surroundings to reflect the time period of the murders, including the brothers’ 1993 trial.
“We’ve been talking with Dick about how to create an event series coming out of the Law & Order ripped-from-the-headlines brand. This case captured the public’s attention like nothing before it as it examined taboo issues such as patricide and matricide in gruesome detail, all against a backdrop of privilege and wealth. We will re-create the cultural and societal surroundings of both the murders and trials when people were not only obsessed with the case but examining how and why these brothers committed these heinous crimes.”
Lyle was 21 and Erik was 18 when they gunned down their parents on August 20, 1989, in their Beverly Hills home. Neighbors told authorities that they heard loud bangs coming from somewhere around the Menendez home at around 10 p.m, but ignored them and chalked it up to children playing around.
It wasn’t until shortly before midnight that the police learned that Jose and Kitty had both been shot. At 11:47 p.m., Lyle called 911 and screamed that someone had killed his parents.
From the beginning, police considered both brothers suspects in the brutal murder, carried out with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. The family’s Mediterranean mansion had a tight security system and there were no signs of any forced entry. Yet authorities failed to check the brothers’ hands for gunshot residue, and with no other evidence to go on, it would take months before they were arrested.
The brothers were arrested in March, 1990, after Lyle’s girlfriend told police that he had confessed to her. Their first trial, which was aired on Court TV in 1993 and resulted in a hung jury, became one of the most-watched trials the station aired after viewers learned of the alleged cruelty inflicted on the brothers by their parents.
In their defense, the brothers, along with their attorney Leslie Abramson, contended that Jose was a heartless perfectionist who sexually abused his sons. Kitty was accused of enabling her husband’s abuse while abusing alcohol herself and sometimes striking her sons.
Despite the memorable testimonies by Erik and Lyle, both brothers were ultimately convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The new series will be similar to the recently aired FX series, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. The story will be dramatized to match the events that took place, but so far, there’s no word as to which actors will play the infamous brothers, and the show’s release date hasn’t been announced.
While speaking about the new series during a press conference, Wolf said that he was “excited to extend the franchise with a scripted limited anthology series that focuses on a high-profile trial. There is no shortage of compelling real-life criminal cases, and the Menendez trial was more scintillating than most crime fiction.”
The Menendez brothers are both serving their life sentences in prisons in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. While Erik is housed at the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, Lyle is serving his time in Ione, at the Mule Creek State Prison.
[Photo by AP/Nick Ut]