HOW THE MEDIA INFLUENCED THE CASE OF MENENDEZ BROTHER’S
Mr. and Mrs. Jose Menendez were Cuban immigrants who were lIving in USA. Apart from being handsome, Menendez was a successful businessman in Beverly Hills. They treated their two sons, Erick and Lyle well and gave them most of the things they desired. They attended good schools, lived in good houses, drove good cars, played tennis in private courts, and were members of the famous country clubs. Many people in the neighborhood admired this family set up. The boys were talented tennis players, and the parents accorded them the necessary assistance into becoming re-known national tennis players.
A sad instance for this family is that the boys were overly spoiled. They planned to execute their parents so that they could inherit the entire wealth, which they possessed. A clear sign of premeditation is when they travelled to a town called San Diego in order to buy shotguns, which were used for the execution. In establishing an alibi, they arranged to meet one of their friends in Santa Monica two days later. In that day which was August 20, 1989, they entered into the sitting room and met their parents who were watching television whom they short gunned to death (Soble, and Johnson, 1994).
Lyle Menendez and Erik Menendez who were aged 68 and 70 respectively had used guns to kill their parents Jose and “kitty” Mendez. The incidence occurred on august 20, 1989 at the family’s residence in Beverly Hills. The prosecutor’s assumption was that the brothers were influenced by a desire and greed for their inheritance of the family’s wealth. At this time, the wealth was estimated to be at $14 million. The defense side theorized that the brothers had murdered their parents out of fear for their lives after days of sexual, physical and psychological abuse by the parents.
The superior court at Los Angeles County charged the brothers with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The prosecutor asked the court to issue a death sentence against the two brothers. The defense side found it hard to dispute the evidence after the brothers admitted committing the felony. The defense therefore, had to rely on another strategy whereby, they claimed that Eric and Lyle had lived in fear due to several counts of abuse.
The brothers claimed that the parents were psychologically and physically abusive in the entire period they had lived together. Lyle claimed that his father had molested him sexually for approximately two years from the time he was aged 6 to 8 years. Eric gave the same testimony about being sexually molested by the father. In his testimony, Eric claimed that his father had sexually molested him since the time he was six up to the time of his death (he was 18 at this time) Impact of the Media Coverage in the Menendez Brothers Case
Eric and Lyle were tried in Alos Angeles court in the year 1993. Proceedings of this case were aired life on television; many viewers who were present at the court proceeding described the on going as a soap opera or a movie. In the cross-examination, Eric and Lyle claimed that they bought the guns in the nearby store so that they could protect themselves from their abusive parents, but they were informed of the mandatory one-week waiting period. This prompted them to drive to San Diego where they could buy them without having to wait. In the process of cross-examination, the prosecutor put a focus on this testimony. He asked the boys to give an explanation on whether they had been interested on revolvers or automatic handguns and what criteria they had considered in selecting them. He then posted a question to Mr. Eric Menendez whether, he knew that the Big five store stopped selling such weapons since 1986.
Eric was confused since he was anticipating this type of question. After along pause, he admitted on his ignorance on the issue, and stressed that they had indeed visited the store in their endeavor of looking for the guns. This made many people who were watching to opine that the boys were indeed lying, and that the murder was a premeditated effort by Eric and Lyre to acquire their parent’s wealth. One journalist who was writing for the Vanity Fair Newspaper, Dunne Dominique expressed the following feelings in his coverage of the trial.
The television coverage of the Menendez brothers which is not supposed to portray the judges, the spectators or the media present in the courtroom did not relay the real situation in this trial. This is because when the prosecutor caught Eric Unaware, and which prompted him to lie, there were open mouth expressions and gasps on some juries’ face. Some relatives bowed their heads. This journalist describes the shock of that moment as electrifying. The prosecutor had caught the person openly lying.
The prosecutor had received the tip about the big five from a phone call by a viewer who was watching the court proceedings. Despite the drama, which this trail had caused, such as the prosecutor receiving death threats, the juries found it hard to conclude the charges and this led to a mistrial. The second trial in 1996 was not aired live, and the duo was sentenced to life imprisonment.