Erik and Lyle Menendez, whose 1989 murders of their wealthy parents in Beverly Hills made them two of the nation's most notorious convicts, reunited this week in San Diego jail. The brothers got their first chance to meet in more than two decades because of a housing-unit transfer at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.
On Wednesday, 47-year-old Erik Menendez was transferred into his 50-year-old brother's designated section, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The younger of the siblings has been at the San Diego County prison since 2013. Lyle Menendez was moved there from Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County in February, but assigned to a separate unit that afforded no chance at a face-to-face meeting between the siblings.
Now, if they wish, they can spend time together at meals and during recreational and exercise periods as they continue serving out their lifelong sentences. Thornton said this afternoon that she did not know if the brothers had yet taken advantage of their newfound ability to spend time together. "And we don't typically comment on inmates' personal lives,'' she added. Each of the brothers has served time in three other state prisons prior to their transfers.
The siblings were 18 and 21 when they reported finding the bodies of self-made millionaire Jose Menendez and the Cuban emigre's former beauty-queen wife, Kitty, in the family's 9,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style residence on Aug 20, 1989. The victims had been shot at point-blank range as they sat in their den, watching television and eating ice cream.
At trial, the brothers' attorneys contended that the killings were a form of self-defense because the defendants believed that they were going to die at the hands of their parents. The accused murderers claimed that they had been sexually abused by their father and that their mother had been cruel and suicidal. Prosecutors argued, however, that 45-year-old Jose Menendez, 45, was a patient father who was the victim, along with his 47-year-old wife, of sons who wanted to inherit the couple's money and be free of their demanding parents.
Following two trials, Erik and Lyle Menendez were convicted of two counts each of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. In July 1996, a judge ordered them to serve life terms with no chance of parole.
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