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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Secret Lives: The Menendez Brothers

Aired May 30, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. What`s your emergency?

LYLE MENENDEZ, CONVICTED OF KILLING PARENTS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the problem? What`s the problem? What`s the problem?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Eleven forty-seven p.m., August 20, a hot and murderous Sunday night inside a Beverly Hills mansion. The 23-room multimillion-dollar Mediterranean estate had become the scene of a total bloodbath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the person still there?

L. MENENDEZ: I don`t think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened? Have you been able to figure out what happened?

L. MENENDEZ: (SOBBING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who shot who?

L. MENENDEZ: I don`t know. I came home and found them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You came home and found who shot?

L. MENENDEZ: My mom and dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re in bed?

VELEZ-MITCHELL (on camera): The lying had already begun. A performance by two handsome young sons of privilege that would mesmerize the world.

(voice-over): From childhood Lyle and Erik Menendez were alternately pampered and punished by their highly successful but demanding father.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: These children grew up with rules for everything. Their father legislated what they could read, what they could eat, how they could spend their time. And they actually had to account for every minute in their day to their father.

VELEZ-MITCHELL (on camera): They grew up as rich kids who were alternately spoiled rotten and rigidly controlled. Lavish gifts were given, but huge achievements were also expected. The boys became outwardly arrogant but inwardly insecure.

LEIBERMAN: On one hand, they were treated like gods, because they had all the money in the world, all the resources in the world. But on the other hand, there was so much expected of them in such a certain way that the dynamic just became crazy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Their father, Jose Menendez, a Cuban immigrant, had achieved the American dream, making millions in the film business. He had high hopes for his boys and pushed them relentlessly to excel in school and sports.

Patriarch Jose pushed Erik to win tennis tournaments. Pushed Erik`s older brother Lyle into Princeton University, an Ivy League school that was the stuff of immigrant fantasy. But Jose`s dreams were becoming a nightmare as the boys consistently failed to excel.

LEIBERMAN: The pressure to succeed on these boys was so great that it drove them to act out. For example, while Lyle was at Princeton he was accused of cheating during a science lab. He actually took his lab partner`s paper and plagiarized it. This is how much these boys were driven to try and succeed at all costs, and it backfired.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It went far beyond that. Erik and Lyle had grown into young men with a pension for criminal behavior, breaking into the homes of their friends` parents and stealing expensive things worth tens of thousands of dollars.

LEIBERMAN: Jose would do anything to give off the impression that he and his wife had this picture-perfect family. For example, he upped and moved the boys from their home over to Beverly Hills just to help get them out of this mess.

Furthermore, he hired a top defense attorney in the area, and he ended up writing a check to the victims of these burglaries for $11,000 to help basically pay off the victims so they would go away.

But it was even more than that. He actually asked one of his sons to take the fall for the burglaries, because Erik was still a minor and if, as a minor, as a juvenile, he took the fall, then it wouldn`t be on any permanent record, and they would just get a slap on the wrist. And that`s exactly what happened.

A high-priced attorney came up with this strategy to blame it all on the juvenile, and basically the father came out of pocket, wrote an $11,000 check. And it`s almost as if these burglaries never happened, because that`s exactly what Jose wanted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: To protect his boys, Jose Menendez even moved his family out of the neighborhood where Erik and Lyle had been breaking into homes and into the Beverly Hills mansion at 722 North Elm Drive that would become known as the death house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is the person that was shot?

L. MENENDEZ: My mom and my dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your mom and dad?

L. MENENDEZ: My mom and my dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Hold on a second.

L. MENENDEZ: (SOBBING)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The horrific double murder was a real whodunit. Who had the biggest motive to kill Jose Menendez and his wife?

LEIBERMAN: This was a point-blank ambush.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, this is the police department.

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I want you to come outside. OK. Come out the front door.

L. MENENDEZ: I`ve got to get my brother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell your brother come out the front door. Everybody come outside.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was one of the most gruesome crime scenes imaginable. Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty, had dosed off watching TV and eating ice cream when they were suddenly hit with a hail of bullets. Kitty`s face and Jose`s head were virtually shot off.

JAMI FLOYD, LEGAL ANALYST: Even very seasoned law enforcement officers who arrived on the scene in Beverly Hills said they had not ever seen a crime scene as bloody as this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been in this business for over 33 years, and I`ve heard of very few murders that were more savage than this one was. He had a very large wound on his leg, which I noticed was not bleeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had a very large wound on his leg, which I noticed was not bleeding. There was a large amount of blood around him and on his clothing. And I also noticed that there was a large portion of the back of his head was missing.

FLOYD: Jose sustained a gunshot wound in the back of his head at point blank range that killed him immediately and eviscerated his brain. But he was then shot several more times.

Kitty was awakened, apparently, by the shot and ran from the couch. And was then shot in the leg, which broke her leg. And she was then fired upon eight or nine additional times.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The victim`s two sons told cops they walked in on a scene of carnage left by mystery killers. At first the boys seemed devastated, but detectives could not help but notice that Lyle and Erik quickly went on a wild spending spree. As heirs to a fortune believed to exceed $14 million, were they just shopping away their pain?

FLOYD: Within the first year, I guess seven, eight months before they were arrested, they spent a million bucks. They immediately go out and buy Rolex watches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you buy three Rolex watches?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a Porsche?

L. MENENDEZ; Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you spend a lot of money on clothes?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your parents were in the process of buying you a condominium at the time they died? Is that correct?

L. MENENDEZ: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you make an offer on another condominium that was right nearby?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why were you going to buy -- did you actually make offers on two other condominium?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

FLOYD: Erik does pursue his tennis with great vigor, and that cost a lot of money. And he begins to travel in terms of his tennis career overseas, specifically to Israel. But that is something that his father had him pursuing before. They`re certainly not acting like grieving children. And they`re not acting with any discretion about the way they`re going to spend the money.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It took seven months for cops to arrest Lyle and Erik Menendez for the murders of their parents.

FLOYD: There was no evidence initially, none, to tie Lyle and Erik Menendez to the killing. There was nothing. There was no weapon. There was no fingerprint. They lived in the house. You couldn`t say, "Well, we found your fingerprints at the scene." There was nothing. They needed a confession. And if they locked down on the boys right away, they might never have gotten a confession. So the police waited. Now some people thought they should have targeted the boys right away. They did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the months we`ve gathered a lot of evidence. It has been very circumstantial, and we were waiting for the glue, if you will, to bind it all together. And just recently that glue has come about, and I feel that we have a very tight case, indeed.

FLOYD: They may have suspected Lyle and Erik from the beginning and thought, "We sit tight and let these boys spend and let these boys behave irresponsibly, they`ll give themselves away."

Lyle Menendez goes out to lunch with a friend. He`s on his way home, and the police descend en masse, and Lyle Menendez is arrested. Erik is overseas in Israel at a tennis tournament.

LEIBERMAN: So the fear is that the brother is -- being overseas, he`s going to become a fugitive. But family members actually reach the brother in Israel, and they urge him to come back to the states and face these charges. And so within a matter of days, both of the boys are behind bars, charged with multiple murders.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors said the two brothers were motivated by greed. Not content with allowances and credit cards, they wanted their father`s entire fortune. And they knew their dad was disgusted by their failures and had threatened to write them out of his will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before your parents died, what did you believe with regard to whether you were in or out of the will?

L. MENENDEZ: We were out of the will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, how is it that you came to believe that?

L. MENENDEZ: That`s what our dad -- that`s what my dad told me, that I was out of the will.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

L. MENENDEZ: My brother got there first, and we just burst through the doors, and I started firing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you went into the room, how soon did you start firing?

ERIK MENENDEZ, CONVICTED OF KILLING PARENTS: Immediately.

L. MENENDEZ: We fired lots, many, many times. And there were just glass, and you could hear things breaking; and you could hear the ringing noises from the booms. And it was the smoke from the guns. And it was basically just chaos.

E. MENENDEZ: When I walked in the room, I was panicking. And I just fired every shot I had. I didn`t stop to take a look at what I was doing after each shot. I just fired until there was nothing left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You put the shotgun up against her left cheek, and you pulled the trigger, did you love your mother?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

LEIBERMAN: At one point the boys run out of bullets. They actually have to go out to the car and load up again. You have Jose writhing on the floor, dying. You have Kitty, the mother, who has now woken up because of the noise of this ambush. She actually slips and falls in her own blood.

And the boys come back, they have all the ammunition from the car, and they end up blowing away their mother, finishing her off at point blank range, essentially blowing the faces off of both their father and their mother.

E. MENENDEZ: Lyle ran back in the house. I sort of followed. I didn`t want to go back in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, did you go back in the house?

E. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did you go back to the den?

E. MENENDEZ: No, I didn`t go in the den.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you go back to the den?

E. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did Lyle go back to the den?

E. MENENDEZ: Lyle was already in the den by that point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And could you hear anything after you got back to the den?

E. MENENDEZ: I just heard a firing of the gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did do you after you reloaded?

L. MENENDEZ: I ran around and found my mom.

LEIBERMAN: But it went a step further. Both of them are now dead in pools of blood on the floor, and that`s not enough. The boys then put a shot in each of their knee caps, because they were already setting up the fact that somebody else must have done this murder, because mob-related hits at the time ended with gunshots to the knees.

FLOYD: And then they fled the house. And then they came back later and called 911, pretending to discover their parents dead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But then, with the help of a ferocious and wiry-haired defense attorney, Leslie Abramson, the Menendez brothers came up with a defense so shocking, so salacious, it would polarize the nation: those who believed the boys were victims of sadistic, almost satanic abuse and those who thought the boys were consummate liars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he try to anally penetrate you with something else?

L. MENENDEZ: He did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what was it?

L. MENENDEZ: It -- it (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was the defense that would shock a nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would he do with his toothbrush?

L. MENENDEZ: Well, in the bedroom we have what we called object sessions and just slide my pants down or take my pants off. Sometimes it would be for a short period of time, sometimes longer. Lay me on the bed. And he`d have a tube of Vaseline, and he just played with me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: While the prosecutor said the Menendez brothers killed their rich parents in cold blood out of greed, the boys, dressed in youthful sweaters with pastel colors, countered they feared their father was about to murder them to keep the shameful family secret from spilling out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And was there some point in time when he decided to use something besides the toothbrush?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did he try to anally penetrate you with something else?

L. MENENDEZ: He did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what was it?

L. MENENDEZ: His -- his right hand (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you cry?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you bleed?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you scared?

L. MENENDEZ: Very.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask him not to?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you ask him not to?

L. MENENDEZ: I just told him I don`t -- (SOBBING)

I`m sorry. I just told him that I didn`t want to do this. And that it hurt me. And he said that he didn`t mean to hurt me. And he left me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The brothers claimed Jose Menendez had molested his sons on hundreds of separate occasions, beginning in early childhood.

LEIBERMAN: Lyle testified over a nine-day period with some of the most graphic testimony that I`ve ever heard. All the while, this is spinning into an elaborate defense of "I was the victim of abuse, so I had no choice but to kill my parents."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And between the ages of 6 and 8 did your father have sexual contact with you?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how often would this happen?

L. MENENDEZ: Like two or three times a week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you were about 13, did you think that it might be happening to someone else?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And who did you think it was happening to?

L. MENENDEZ: Erik.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you believe was the originating cause of you and your brother ultimately winding up shooting your parents?

E. MENENDEZ: Me telling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You telling what?

E. MENENDEZ: Me telling Lyle that...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you answer the question?

E. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. You telling Lyle what?

E. MENENDEZ: My dad had been molesting me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did you want something from your brother? Is that why you told him?

E. MENENDEZ: I just wanted to stop him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you seeking help from your brother?

E. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you kill your parents?

L. MENENDEZ: Because we were afraid.

FLOYD: So Erik goes the L.A. County jail, and initially he`s on suicide watch. And he`s put on tranquilizers like Xanax, and he`s so depressed he asked for a priest. And the priest goes in. And the priest is the first person to whom he makes the allegation that he was sexually abused as a child. The priest encourages Erik to share that with his lawyer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She may have looked like Little Orphan Annie, but defense attorney Leslie Abramson was a brilliant ring master in painting murder victim Jose Menendez as a monster, claiming he even sexually tortured one of his sons by piercing him with tacks.

E. MENENDEZ: He would stick things in me as he was giving me oral sex or at times, he would he just sit on the bed with his legs up, spread, and with his back to the back of the bed and he would have me give him oral sex. And he would stick the needles or the tacks into my thighs as he was doing this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors suggested Erik used his own sexual experiences with men to concoct lies about his father forcing sex on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the defendant were engaged in consensual sex, homosexual activities with other men, that would account for his being able to describe what he described to you, his sexual encounters with his father.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But while the boys` tears seemed genuine, many felt the story was an outright lie, told by a couple of seasoned, even pathological liars, intent on assassinating the character of the father they brutally murdered.

FLOYD: The Menendez case was the first case that created real sympathy on national television for a defendant. And the Menendez brothers had one of the most brilliant trial lawyers the country`s ever had, Leslie Abramson. She was able to cultivate a brilliant defense. Whether it was based on a true story of abuse or not and that`s the question the country grappled with.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One big problem for the defense, the brothers had never told anyone that their Dad had molested them. Not even their psychotherapist, the very doctor to whom they`d ultimately confessed that they had murdered their parents.

JOE LIEBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: So prosecutors pointed out you would have to wonder if the boy was comfortable enough telling his shrink that he killed his parents, why would he leave out the fact that he killed them because they had been abusing him sexually over a number of years beginning when he was a little boy?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That shrink would become the prosecutor`s star witness.

DR. L. JEROME OZIEL, PSCYHOTHERAPIST: He did it. He said, "We killed our parents." But I asked him, "You mean you killed your parents?" He said, "Yes."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The murder trial of Lyle and Erik Menendez accused of slaughtering their parents to get their hands on their dad`s millions. Their defense: that they were terrified victims of their father`s sexual molestation.

LESLIE ABRAMSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What violent thing did he do?

ERIK MENENDEZ: He threw me on the bed and I went to get knife and he put it to my throat.

ABRAMSON: Put the knife to your throat?

E. MENENDEZ: Yes.

ABRAMSON: And was there sex with your father that day?

E. MENENDEZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it that fourth time that he called --

E. MENENDEZ: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It would mark the start of a criminal defense trend known as "blame the victim". The strategy: put the victim on trial and turn that dead victim who cannot defend himself into a total monster.

LIEBERMAN: There was absolutely no corroboration of it. For example one of the boys tells his psychiatrist he kills the parents but doesn`t mention anything around that time about any sort of abuse.

FLOYD: The theory of the defense is very much like a battered women theory, their psychology was destroyed by their father. That he was so oppressive and so abusive and so controlled their thinking that they couldn`t just leave.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some felt sympathy for the defendants, courtroom cynics were sure the brothers were acting and to prove their acting skills prosecutors played the hysterical 911 call where the brothers claim to have discovered their parents murdered by mystery killers. But now the jurors knew that call was staged and totally phony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the person still there?

LYLE MENENDEZ, CONVICTED OF PARENTS: I don`t think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened? Have you been able to figure what happened?

Who shot who?

L. MENENDEZ: I don`t know. I came home --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You came home and found who shot?

L. MENENDEZ: My mom and dad.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Soon the prosecution`s star witness, Dr. L. Jerome Oziel, was on the stand. Erik had confessed to this psychotherapist that he had killed his mom and dad but never mentioned his dad had been molesting him. Instead the doctor said Erik told him they got the idea while watching the TV mini series "The Billionaire Boys Club" as they watched they shared their fear of being disinherited and their anger over being controlled by their dad.

The fact that the analyst had made tapes of some of his sessions with the brothers made his already blockbuster testimony all the more powerful.

OZIEL: He did it. He said "W killed my parents." But I asked him "You mean you killed your parents." He said "Yes." Erik told me that his father said something like "No, no" and turned away and was shot as he was saying that. And the mother was, I think, shot second and I guess shot and fell to the ground. He and Erik had sat in Erik`s new Jeep and the first statement that Lyle had made to Erik when he got into the Jeep was "Now how do we kill Oziel," and he continued to relate in the course of this conversation that he wasn`t, he wasn`t up to killing anybody else right now and that if Lyle wanted to kill me that he should go ahead and kill me.

FLOYD: The first psychotherapist Dr. Oziel testified because the Supreme Court of California said he`s permitted to testify because Lyle Menendez threatened him and when Lyle Menendez threatened him the confidentiality evaporated.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: With no physical or mental evidence of abuse and no testimony to support it beyond the brother`s own claims some wondered where they might have gotten got the idea? Well, some claim after his arrest Lyle Menendez began reading up on child abuse particularly the book entitled "When a Child Kills: abused children who kill their parents".

LIEBERMAN: It was basically a book that helps attorneys successfully defend children accused of killing their parents by hatching this abuse defense and this abuse claim and this idea that if they didn`t kill their parents they would actually end up being killed by their parents either through the prolonged abuse or otherwise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Overkill. A perfect description of how Jose and Kitty Menendez died. How would the defense spin it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you kill your parents?

E. MENENDEZ: Because we were afraid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was it a hunger for millions or a terror of more molestation after years of defilement? That was the question for the jury or as it were two juries. The judge in the Menendez trial ruled it would be a waste of the taxpayer money to have the two brothers tried separately. Instead he decided on two juries one for each brother.

When it came time for the defense older brother Lyle delivered emotional testimony. It was so gut wrenching it brought many of those watching in court and at home to tears.

L. MENENDEZ: He just said it was our secret; that bad things would happen to me if I told anybody. And I told him I never would.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In nine days of testimony Lyle spoke of so much molestation it seemed like everybody in the family was fondling somebody else. Lyle would claim he would touch his mother Kitty everywhere, even while his father was in bed with him. Believe it or not everyone agreed Lyle`s stories from the stand formed the emotional crescendo of this case.

ABRAMSON: During the time between 6:00 and 8:00 when this was going on did you tell your brother?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

ABRAMSON: Did you do something to your brother?

L. MENENDEZ: Yes.

ABRAMSON: What did do you to your brother?

L. MENENDEZ: I took him out to the woods. Whenever I felt, I don`t know, I took him out sometimes, and I took a toothbrush also and I played with Erik in the same way. And I`m sorry.

FLOYD: There was a lot of crying in this case -- a lot of sobbing. And we have to remember we only saw one Menendez trial. You couldn`t see any sobbing in the second case because there was no camera. So if you remember sobbing it`s from the first trial.

LIEBERMAN: Lyle testified over a nine day period with some of the most graphic testimony that I`ve ever heard. He has details about how he believed his father was molesting his brother and then he says that his father molested him for a period of years when he was seven, eight and nine years old.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lyle`s apology from the witness stand to his kid brother revealed their shared bond -- their loyalty to each other. And it really gave us a hint that even if they were lying about the molestation, something had happened to them that broke them, broke them down and made them trust only one another.

Here we are in the "Secrets Lab" with our two famous analysts, Dr. Robi Ludwig and Dr. Jeff Gardere. Now I believe that this is a tragic cautionary tale about the dangers of a dad being too controlling with his kids. Try to live through them. Trying to force them to be things they are not.

Jose Menendez was a drill sergeant. Doctors, he wanted them to be tennis pros, captains of industry, go to Ivy League schools and all they felt like were failures -- Dr. Robi.

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I think we have a situation where Jose was very devaluing and he made his two sons really feel awful about themselves on a chronic basis. He created a lot of low self-esteem and a lot of more importantly rage. These boys were very rageful.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They were very angry, indeed. And they expressed that. They expressed that they were so frustrated with their father, Dr. Gardere, he didn`t accept them for who they were.

DR. JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: No matter what they did, no matter what they wanted to do, or what they expressed to him, they were never good enough as Dr. Robi says. And I think in many ways what he did to them, instead of trying to be a loving parent he was nothing more than a bully. That`s what it was all about for him. It was his way or the highway.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. What I see is a lesson, a lesson to parents that you have to accept your children and love them unconditionally, not make them an extension of your ego. Not make them basically a commodity so that you can parade them around as look, look what great kids I have. That`s not really the definition of love.

I hope that every single parent learns an important lesson from this case that your kids are going to hate you if you basically write a script for their lives and say here live it.

Trying to live through your children is a very dangerous business. Jose Menendez was an American success story, the children of immigrants who rose in business to incredible wealth. But that wasn`t enough for him. His two sons had to do something even more astounding. And in a way they did. They became infamous -- infamous killers.

Now the only question was, would they get away with it? Would they walk?

FLOYD: People could not understand why else they would have killed their parents in such a brutal and gory way. Something must have been terribly wrong in that house for this to have occurred where these boys had everything.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Two handsome brothers, accused of the unthinkable, slaughtering their own parents to get their inheritance. It was the defense argument that the brothers had been sexually molested by years by their dad left the jurors` heads spinning and they deadlocked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Therefore I find that the jury is hopelessly deadlocked and the court declares a mistrial.

ABRAMSON: A lot of time and money has been spent on this case. It is my opinion that if we could have adequately questioned these jurors, you won`t have a deadlocked jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors outraged over what they saw as a clear miscarriage of justice were hell bent on another trial. This time it would be before a single jury.

Would that jury buy the abuse excuse? Not this time. Now it would be guilty, murder one for both of the brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Verdict was guilty, guilty of murder in the first degree for the deaths of both Jose and Kitty Menendez and his brother Erik received the same guilty verdicts.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This trial set the stage for everything to come that we have covered in the media for decades. Now back in my "Secrets Lab" with Dr. Robi Ludwig and Dr. Jeff Gardere. I got to start with you, Robi, this blame the victim. We first heard it in the Menendez trial but it has really reverberated right up through the Jodi Arias trial where she tore the victim Travis Alexander to shreds and also accused him of sexual misconduct.

LUDWIG: Right. In this case, we are talking about incest. And what we know about incest is that these boys may not have had physical evidence because it was a big secret which very often incest is. So we don`t really have the physical information to substantiate these claims.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this, though, Dr. Jeff Gardere, nobody knows what happens behind closed doors. And if you want to tell a lie, make sure the person you are talking about is dead and make sure nobody else was there.

GARDERE: Right, right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Those are the two key ingredients for successful lying on the stand and accusing somebody of pedophilia, incest, all of these horrible red button issues that these defendants think they`re going to use to get away with murder.

GARDERE: That`s right. And what happened here though when we look at this case versus Jodi Arias, the difference here is that you do have a victim who was, in fact, a bully. As a matter of fact the mistress of Jose said, you know what, I hear all these horrible things being said about Jose, and even though I was having an affair with him, he wasn`t the man that they`re portraying them to be.

He was easy to take advantage of because of the horrible parenting, but he may not have been that monster that incredible monster, sexual monster, that was painted by the defense.

LUDWIG: Well, I just want to point out one other thing. Let`s not forget the mother here. Because where is the mother by the way? The mother also ended up dead. Why -- because she didn`t protect her sons. So they were angry with both their parents. They weren`t just angry with their father. They were angry with their mother, too, for not doing something to make an intervention.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But let`s remember, this is the father who gave his sons an Alfa Romeo for his birthday. What does the boy say? Oh, that`s garbage, I wanted a Ferrari. They`re spoiled brats. Yet, their parents made them spoiled brats. But is that reason to murder?

Their punishment, life in prison. By this time, Erik and Lyle had become TV heartthrobs. The brothers, now convicts, went on "20/20" and begged to be in prison together. But the Corrections Department decided ultimately to separate them -- something the defense attorney Leslie called cruel.

ABRAMSON: We see it as exceedingly cruel and heartless. I don`t hear them making statements like that about serial killers, about baby rapists.

FLOYD: Lyle and Erik Menendez are in maximum security prison in California. The order is that they are to be kept in different maximum security prisons. They are never to be housed in the same prison. All of their appeals have been unsuccessful and they`ve now exhausted their appeal so they will be in prison for the rest of their lives.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Two boys who always felt they only had each other and then they didn`t even have that. But even behind bars, they`ve attracted women. Both Erik and Lyle have married. Lyle is on his second prison marriage; Erik still on his first. Here`s Tammy, AKA, Mrs. Erik Menendez talking about her unusual marriage.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Why enter into a marriage where frankly you can`t have sex?

TAMMY MENENDEZ, WIFE OF ERIK MENENDEZ: Well, you know, sex isn`t everything. But I will say this

KING: But it isn`t number three or four.

T. MENENDEZ: I know. I know -- exactly. But I really get emotional support from Erik. I think with my first marriage with Chuck, I just didn`t get that. So with Erik, I get emotional support and that means more to me than anything.

KING: But you go to bed alone.

T. MENENDEZ: I do. And it`s hard. It`s a hard -- I wouldn`t wish it upon anybody. It`s a hard, difficult life. It`s not -- I mean I struggle with it every day.

KING: Why commit to a marriage that this beautiful, young lady. You are never going to have sexual relations. Why didn`t you say to her, I`ll be your friend, I`ll write to you? I`ll talk to you. Get a romantic life?

E. MENENDEZ: You know, that`s a good question. And Tammy is going to have to help me answer it. I mean the first time I looked into Tammy`s eyes, I felt like I had come home. She`s not just my best friend. She`s my great love, Larry. She -- this woman is everything to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Even though conjugal visits are not allowed, Erik finally feels understood. Perhaps that`s all he and his brother Lyle ever wanted in the first place.

I am Jane Velez-Mitchell. Thank you for watching "SECRET LIVES".

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