Lyle Menéndez, one of two brothers who killed their wealthy parents in 1989, recently spoke out about the pair’s father in a prison phone interview.
Describing his relationship with Jose Menéndez, Lyle Menéndez, 48, called his father a “force of nature” in the interview, part of a two-hour ABC News special called Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers.
“You were expected to be competitive to a fault,” he continued, noting that he looked up to his father. “He began to sort of try to groom me to be hyper-competitive and succeed.”
Menéndez and his brother Erik, who were 21 and 18 respectively at the time, shot their sleeping parents, Jose and Mary Menéndez, execution-style in the den of the family’s Spanish-style, Beverly Hills mansion on the night of Aug. 20, 1989.
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At the time, prosecutors said that the privileged brothers killed their parents in an attempt to obtain the family fortune. However, the defense argued that the brothers acted in self-defense after suffering years of sexual abuse from their father.
The brothers’ cousin, Diane Vander Molen, told ABC that she has no doubt that the men were sexually abused during their childhood.
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“I know that they would never, ever have done what they did unless they felt that they had no choice — that it was either them or their parents,” Molen said. “I believe that very strongly.”
Now, the brothers are serving out their sentences in separate prisons, and ABC reports that they play chess by mail, sending each move by courier. Menéndez said that although he has not seen Erik in years, their “bond is really strong.”
Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers — American Sons, American Murderers airs Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, on ABC.