On August 20, 1989, Erik and Lyle Menendez brutally murdered their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, with two 12-gauge shotguns. While Lyle has been telling his side of the story in numerous interviews -- including many this year -- Erik has remained silent since 2005.
Speaking from inside the walls of the Donovan Correctional Facility, the other brother has been detailing his personal account on A&E's new documentary series, "The Menendez Murders: Erik Tells All." While the first three hours focused on the events leading up to and the night of the murder, Erik's arrest and the beginning of the brothers' trial, Wednesday's episode focused on the defense.
Here's everything we learned:
'Stunned' By the Pop Culture Reaction
The Menendez Brothers were a pop culture phenomenon when their trial started in the early '90s, as both a topic of discussion on late night and as prime parody targets on "SNL" and even in "The Cable Guy."
"These people that I admired or respected in the media were now talking about me, usually in a negative way," Erik said, looking back. "I remember watching David Letterman one night and Michael Keaton was on and I had always liked Michael Keaton as an actor and for 5 minutes he starts talking about me and describing aspects of my case which aren't true, I was stunned by it."
"I remember one skit of John Malkovich and he was playing us on 'Saturday Night Live' and that was so surreal," he added, "that was like an out of body experience, watching this person I liked as an actor suddenly playing Lyle."
The brothers never denied they murdered their parents. Their entire defense strategy hung on them trying to convince the jury why they killed them in cold blood. Their testimony, as well as testimony from many of their relatives, alleged years of physical and mental abuse from both parents, but mainly at the hands of their father.
"[Attorney Leslie Abramson] presented for 6 weeks of relative after relative, testifying about the traumas they witnessed, the terror they saw me go through and they were terrible stories," Erik recalled. "Some of them I didn't even remember, I was hearing them for the first time, I lived them but I don't remember all the things that happened to me when I was a kid."
He detailed the massages his father used to give him before tennis matches, as well as the ones he would receive in his bedroom at home. "I don't think anything of it. I find it privileged that he would take the time to be alone with me," he explained. "He would tell me that back in ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, that's how soldiers would prepare for battle."
During the trial, Menendez's cousin Andy Cano testified that Erik confided in him about some of the inappropriate touching. "I didn't have anyone to talk to, Andy was the one person I had spoken to and asked him if things like this were happening to him," Erik said. "When I was younger, he was the only person I could reach out to and I did so in letters. I was really looking for some sort of context, I didn't have anyone else to ask these questions. I didn't know what was happening to other people in other homes."
Erik's psychiatrist, Dr. William Vicary, also appeared on the special and said Erik told him their father would shower with both of them between the ages of 7-14. A couple of Menendez's cousins shared similar accounts from their childhoods, with some of them saying they weren't even allowed on the same floor as Jose when he was with the boys.
"There was always an indication that something was not right, that something was off," Erik's tennis coach Charles Wadlington told A&E. "I didn't know to the extent that there was sexual abuse."
Erik also described how Jose pitted the two brothers against each other, how Jose would "graphically describe to me how he would kill me if I ran away" and how their father would hold him under water until just "before he thought I was going to pass out."
"My mom, it's almost as if she had two personalities, one of them was calm ... the other, it was very unpredictable and vindictive and chaotic," Erik said of his mother. "She'd be staring into space and then the next thing you know, she would start taking dishes from the cabinets and smashing them and breaking them."
During the trial, Kitty's psychologist, Dr. Edwin Cox, testified that she had a dependence on alcohol and prescription drugs and was suicidal. Erik said he was 15,16 when he found her first suicide letter.
"One of the ways my mother would punish me would be by locking me in her closet. I would be locked in the closet for an hour, sometimes a day, from the afternoon until the next morning," he said from prison. "I would eat in there, I would drink in there, I would go the bathroom in there. I would hide food, I would hide water, I was given Tupperware to go to the bathroom in the closet."
"She would say, 'I hate you, I wish you were never born. I could have did something if it wasn't for you. You ruined my life. I gave up my whole life for you,'" he continued. "As a child, I just believed that she wished we were never born. That I ruined her hope for happiness. As a adult, I believe all mothers on a base level love their children. I know that she didn't love us the way most mothers love their children. But in her way, I don't know, I've never been able to reconcile. I say these things to myself to give me peace because I want my mom to have loved me."
Lyle Menendez was the first of the two brothers to testify in court, beginning in September 1993.
"Lyle's the first to get on the stand. This was something that I would rather have died if I would have thought about it as a kid, I couldn't imagine anything more horrible," he said of having his alleged family secret made public. "This is not anything I wanted exposed, anything that I wanted out there, talked about ... and hearing Lyle talk about the pain he went through, it broke me and it was brutal."
Lyle testified about the alleged abuse he suffered from his father, as well as how he abused his own brother.
"Lyle talking about what he did to me and what dad did to him, it was horrible, it was terrible," he said. "You would think that's a good day for the defense, it was a horrible day for us emotionally."
He added that seeing how "crushed" Lyle looked after his testimony made him think to himself, "I'm not going to be able to do this."
Erik's testimony will likely be the focus of next week's episode.
"The Menendez Murders: Erik Tells All" airs Thursdays on A&E.