In A New Interview, Lyle Menendez Talks About Killing His Parents

It’s been 28 years since Lyle and Erik Menendez killed their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, and until the debut of Law & Order True Crime about the Menendez murders, there hadn’t been any communication or information from Lyle and Erik Menendez, or any of the other players in the event that captivated the world’s attention back in the late ’80s. But now, Lyle Menendez is speaking out to Keith Morrison of Dateline and talking about what it was like to kill his parents with his brother Erik.

In the weeks leading up to the series on NBC, the thing that was recalled was that lawyer Leslie Abramson dressed Lyle and Erik Menendez, two young men who admitted killing their parents, in matching L.L. Bean-style sweaters.

“Those stupid sweaters. Close your eyes and conjure the Menendez brothers, and they’re wearing matching sweaters the vivid, unnatural colors of jelly beans. The two handsome young men wore to court what one might wear to cocktail hour at the country club as if they were chilly after a tennis match. Maybe they were trying to look younger, or more wholesome, or otherwise less capable of murdering their parents. Instead, their sartorial choices only chiseled out their own caricature: the spoiled rich boys who thought they could get away with anything.”

But now that the series has ended, Lyle Menendez is speaking out from jail to Keith Morrison from Dateline via telephone. Morrison started out by asking when Lyle and Erik Menendez decided to kill their parents.

“We didn’t decide,” Lyle Menendez said. “It was, we finally, just kind of got overwhelmed with this panic and emotion and made the decision to run into that room. It was dark and as soon as you start firing it’s also just an explosion of gun residue in your face in a small room, and there is no—it’s chaos, you’re not even really sure what you’re shooting at.”

But in the chaos, Lyle Menendez explained that he reloaded his shotgun and fired the last shots into his mother, Kitty Menendez, who was attempting to get away from her two sons who had already killed their father, Jose Menendez.

“I certainly in the room wasn’t making decisions in a chaotic situation like that. But reflecting afterward it haunts me, it does haunt me.”

Keith Morrison then asked Lyle Menendez, who called the police, exclaiming “they’ve killed my parents” to the 911 operator. Lyle Menendez explained that he was not grief-stricken on the call that was taped, but he channeled the trauma that both he and Erik were feeling into his voice to convince the police.

“Both of us were just in such a state of trauma and I just, it just poured through on that call. It made it very easy to make that call, really.”

Lyle Menendez is still saying that his brother Erik was being raped by their father Jose Menendez up until the time of the murders, and believes that if the jury had gotten a glimpse at what both Menendez brothers endured, things would have turned out differently.

“I would trade my entire defense for a 30-second video of my father raping me. I would trade my whole case for it because I think it’s so sanitized and so easy to use the word ‘abuse,’ [and say] ‘Oh the abuse wasn’t so bad.'”

Lyle Menendez, who no longer resembles the 21-year-old with the toupee of thick dark hair, still believes that both he and Erik should have been offered a plea deal, and they weren’t offered one because they were from Beverly Hills. Lyle Menendez said that because their case had the added level of money, that is all that prosecutors saw.

“And I think that it was very easy, because it was Beverly Hills, and my father had a lot of money, to sort of sell this headline that these brothers killed for money.”

Both Lyle and Erik Menendez are serving life in two different prisons.

[Featured Image by Nick Ut/AP Images]