Glenn Yeffeth, the boss at my publisher BenBella Books, interviewed me for the company’s podcast, Building Books, and we talked how most of the mainstream media got the original Menendez story wrong in the 1990s.
My first draft was 250,000 words and BenBella only wanted to publish 100,000 words.
The public was outraged that the two 1994 juries – one for each brother – could not reach verdicts in the first Menendez trial. All the jurors agreed that a homicide had been committed. Most of the women voted for manslaughter, but almost all of the men wanted to convict Erik and Lyle of murder.
When I interviewed most of the jurors after the trial, men mostly told me some variation of “a father would never do that to his sons.”
The Menendez family money was gone after the first trial. Most of the family estate – estimated at $6-8,000,000 – went to the attorneys, defense investigators and taxes.
Defense attorney Leslie Abramson was appointed by the court at $125 an hour.
The mainstream media signed on to the District Attorney’s 1993 theory that Erik and Lyle Menendez were a pair of greedy rich kids, and that included NBC’s Jay Leno.
Leno’s monologues on The Tonight Show often featured at least one joke based on the Menendez testimony of the day.
When Erik admitted that he had a hard time getting dates, this was Jay’s gag:
Yesterday, Erik said his parents made fun of him because he never had a girlfriend. You know, I don’t know how to break it to him, but shooting your Mom and Dad isn’t really going to help your chances.
Through his unparalleled access – and his relentlessly detailed reporting – Robert Rand became America’s unofficial “Menendez-whisperer” when this story dominated the news.
Now, Rand is back, with stunning, never-before seen revelations in The Menendez Murders – a landmark work that upends everything we thought we knew about these crimes, and may rock the criminal justice system. Deeply compelling and meticulously sourced, it’s the essential read of the year. — Evan Wright, author, Generation Kill.
All of the early media speculation was focused on a connection between the Jose’s home video business and the Mafia.
It was years before the internet, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle. I spent two days with Lyle and Erik Menendez in October while reporting a biography of Jose Menendez’s rags to riches story that ended in tragedy.
The brothers told me loving stories about their parents and were emotionally appropriate. They were not suspects publicly and I had no reason to be suspicious of them.
After 29 years of reporting, my book The Menendez Murders has finally been released. I’m happy that I can share my work with everybody in the U.S. and around the world who remain fascinated by the case.
It was great fun to hold a discussion, answer questions, and sign books Sunday at the legendary Book Soup on the Sunset Strip.
Criminal defense attorneys Jessa Nicholson Goetz and Nicholas (Nick) Gansner discuss high-profile trials, defense strategies, popular culture’s fixation on crime, and all other things related to criminal law in their GETTING OFF podcast.
How about this interview with Robert?
“There’s so much going on here, we can’t even take it!”
On Friday, September 10: “The defense calls Joseph Lyle Menendez,” announced attorney Jill Lansing at five minutes before two o’clock. Lyle, dressed in a navy crew-neck sweater, walked directly to Lansing.
Lansing was blunt:
“Did you love your parents?”
“Yes,” he choked out hoarsely.
“And on August 20, 1989, did you and your brother kill your mom and dad?”