Within 24 hours of Lyle Menendez’s arrest in March 1990, the TV tabloid program Hard Copy aired a story revealing that Erik Menendez was the co-author of a screenplay titled Friends about a young man who kills his parents and inherits $157 million.
The screenplay was frequently mentioned in media coverage about the case.
The script, however, was never admitted as evidence in either of the brothers’ trials.
In one of his few major rulings sympathetic to the defense, Judge Stanley Weisberg said jurors would not be told about the screenplay because it had been written by both Erik and his best friend, Craig Cignarelli.
In my October 1989 interview with Erik (five months before his arrest), he told me he wanted to write a script about a gang fight he’d been involved in Calabasas. He didn’t mention the other screenplay.
The repeated stories about the screenplay are egregious examples of how media coverage of evidence that was not admitted had a negative impact on the trials.
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