Lyle already had a taste of celebrity life before becoming a stop on the jail tour. Fellow inmates frequently asked for an autograph. Among the other renowned prisoners he has met on celebrity row are Charles Manson (brought in for a two-day hearing), Reginald Denny beating defendant Damian Williams and funk star Rick James. (Lyle claims to have co-written a few songs with James.) “Coming to jail was the greatest thing that ever happened to me after my parents died,” Erik said in a conversation from the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail. “If I would not have come here, I probably would have been dead by now. I’m not quite sure I’d have committed suicide, but I don’t think I would have been able to last this long. After the relationship with Oziel failed, I had no one to turn to.”

Lyle has his own ideas. “Clearly, their best theory is hatred. I don’t think that’s going to hold up because the events surrounding August 20, 1989—within a few months before and after—don’t support it,” he says. “There were too many good things going on in my life for me to toss it for that reason. I’m not a guy who hated, and I’m not a guy who even expresses anger very well. I hope my own feelings—the mixed feelings about the whole thing coming out—will make difference for the jury.”

PLAYBOY JULY 1995: Menendez Confidential: True Crime
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