Lyle Menéndez has managed to maintain a sense of normalcy while in prison serving a two-term life sentence for the 1989 murders of his parents

By Char Adams
January 06, 2017 12:27 AM
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Lyle Menéndez has spent the last 26 years of his life in a California prison after he and his brother murdered their parents in 1989. But he has managed to achieve a sense of normalcy, even maintaining a 13-year marriage.

Menéndez married Rebecca Sneed in 2003 while serving out his life sentence at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California. The now-48-year-old opened up about the unconventional relationship during a recent phone interview with ABC News as part of a two-hour special called Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers.

“One thing I’ve learned is that your physical comfort is much less important than your connection with the people around you,” Menéndez said. “I’ve found I can have a healthy marriage that is complicated and built around conversation and finding creative ways to communicate, sharing, without all the props that are normally there in marriage in terms of going out to dinner and having as much intimate time together and so on.”

Lyle, left, and Erik Menendez sit in Beverly Hills Municipal Court where their attorneys delayed making pleas on behalf of the brothers who are suspected in the murders of their millionaire parents, Jose and Mary Louise Menendez, March 12, 1990.
Lyle (left) and Erik Menendez
| Credit: Nick Ut/AP

Conjugal visits are prohibited for those sentenced to life without parole, ABC reports.

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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The murder case gripped the nation. Investigators initially believed the killings to be a mafia hit, but after Lyle confessed to his ex-girlfriend and Erik confessed to a psychologist, the brothers were arrested.

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.

“My own father, he was a person of means and stature, and my mother was sort of a socialite-type person, a country club type person,” Menéndez said. “No one’s going to intervene in how they raise their family.”

The first trial in 1993 ended in a hung jury, but the second ended in first-degree murder convictions and two-term life sentences for the men — a fate Menéndez said he has come to terms with.

“My life is a struggle [to] not be defined by what happened,” he said. “I’m at peace with my life growing up. I’m at peace with it, because I’ve just sort of accepted [that] it’s okay not to understand.”