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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Menendez Brothers Found Guilty

LOS ANGELES -- A jury in the retrial of Erik and Lyle Menendez found the brothers guilty of first degree murder, rejecting their claim that years of sexual and emotional abuse lead them to shoot their parents in 1989 after a confrontation in their Beverly Hills mansion.


The Menendez brothers could face the death penalty for their crimes because the Van Nuys Superior Court jury found them guilty Wednesday of special circumstances of lying in wait and multiple murder. Hearings in the penalty phase will begin Monday. The two face a minimum punishment of life in prison without parole.


Erik, 25, and Lyle, 28, sat stone-faced as a clerk read the verdicts to a courtroom packed with the defendants' family and friends, journalists and spectators. After the jurors announced their verdict, Erik Menendez stood up, sighed heavily and looked at his grandmother, seated in the spectator section, and mouthed the words, "I'll be all right," and then, "I love you." His brother made no eye contact with anyone as the two were led away.


Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg issued a gag order barring discussion of the case by lawyers, jurors, witnesses and family members until sentencing is decided.


The verdict was a stunning turnaround from the first trial, which ended in mistrial when two separate juries deadlocked over whether the brothers had murdered their parents, Jose Menendez, a Cuban-born film studio executive, and his wife, Kitty, on Aug. 20, 1989. The parents were found dead, in the family room, of multiple shotgun wounds.


Erik and Lyle Menendez initially claimed to police their parents must have been murdered by the mafia but had tearfully testified at the first trial that years of abuse made them fear for their lives and for that reason they purchased a shotgun and pumped 12 bullets into their parents.


At this trial, Weisberg severely restricted the number of experts the defense was able to call as character witnesses, saying they were irrelevant to the brothers' state of mind at the time of the killing. He also barred cameras from the courtroom, an apparent reaction to the O.J. Simpson murder trial that ended in October as this trial was beginning.