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 previous hours focused on the events leading up to and the night of the murder, their arrest and the beginning of the brothers' trial, Wednesday's episode focused on Erik's testimony and the retrial.
Menendez and O.J. Simpson crossed paths long before both were accused of murder. "My dad worked at Hertz and it's at Hertz they started the campaign with O.J. Simpson and O.J. would come over to the house," Erik said. "I remember him in the background tossing the football with Lyle. It was a big deal that this larger than life personality was over there and that's when I first got to know O.J. as one of those childhood heroes."
Erik said the two would meet again in jail after Simpson was arrested for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
"He gets arrested, the door pops open a the end of the hall and there's O.J." he explained. "He sees me, and says, 'Hi, Erik,' and I said, 'Hi, O.J.' and he gets put into the cell next to me. That's where he stayed for about 3 months. O.J. did not know anything about the county jail, but at that point I'd been in jail for 4 years. We talked about the court system and what it's like to be on trial."
Erik also said he was the one who put Simpson in touch with Johnnie Cochran, who was a close friend of his own lawyer, Leslie Abramson.
Simpson's acquittal would come eight days before the boys were about to start their second trial, something Erik said "had a very negative affect on our case." He believes the D.A.'s office were out to get a conviction to make up for the "sense of extreme injustice" over the O.J. verdict.
When it was time for Erik to take the stand in the first trial, he was "terrified." Menendez explained that they actually had to cancel his first day of testimony after he had taken his and his brother's doses of Xanax and "couldn't handle it."
"I remember when I first took the stand, I was blanking out. After that, I just began to shut down," he said. "It was 9 days on the stand, which mean 9 nights, 9 mornings waiting to get on the stand and it was day after day of telling all of the secrets that are the most shameful, humiliating things to the whole world that's watching, it just seems endless."
Erik's Reaction to First Trial Ending In a Deadlocked Jury
Jury deliberations for Erik's trial lasted from December 15, 1993 - January 13, 1994, with the jury failing to come to a decision. According to juror Hazel Thornton, they were split by gender. "It became obvious immediately that it was men vs. women," she explained. "The men in our jury had a real hard time accepting the premise that teenage boys can be abused by their father."
The brothers had two separate juries, and when Lyle's also came back deadlocked, Erik's brother reacted with a smile. But to Erik, there wasn't much to celebrate.
"The hung jury, people have the sense we thought that was victory. That was a terrible verdict," he explained. "That verdict meant that everything would go over, the entire trial would have to be done all over again. The idea that we would have to do it all over again, in public, was not something we thought was a victory, at all."
CBS' "Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills" and Fox's "Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Murders" both aired in 1994, depicting the murders of Jose and Kitty Menendez.
"I saw one of the television movies that had come out after the first trial, there is not a single scene in that movie that happened," Erik said, without revealing which of the two he watched.
Why Erik Believes Retrial Was Unfair
When it was time for the retrial, the judge barred video cameras from covering the case and didn't allow many of the defense's witnesses to testify to the alleged sexual abuse claims. "His goal in that trial was to get a conviction. There's no doubt about it, it was painful to watch but there was nothing I could do," Erik said.
"We were not allowed to talk about any psychological trauma we went through, any terrorizing or intimidation or fear that occurred at the house was excluded from the trial," he added. "He knew exactly what the most important aspects of our case was, our case was based on a history of fear I had with my mom and my dad. The mood in the courtroom was focused on conviction for first degree murder."
Lyle also didn't testify, so most of the case was focused on Erik. "Without all of the years of trauma that our relatives have seen us go through as children, without that testimony it's very difficult to convey the trauma and terror and all the bad things that happened in my house," he said. "It's almost impossible for me to do it by myself. I could say it, but its just me saying it."
Abramson was also sidelined after she was accused of asking Erik's psychologist, Dr. William Vicary, to alter his notes to not include anything that might implicate them in first-degree murder. In another blow, the judge also took away the option for the jury to come back with a manslaughter verdict.
"At the end, he pulled that out from under us," said Erik. "Basically, the jury was left with first degree murder or not guilty."
The brothers were both found guilty of first-degree murder. "I knew it wouldn't end well and I wasn't surprised when the jury verdict came back guilty," said Erik, who admitted that "hearing it was still shocking."
One of the jurors, Andrew Wolfberg, also appeared on the special and said the verdict was an "emotional decision." He added: "I remember sitting there saying, based on what I know right now, I'm very confident in what I'm doing. I have no doubts whatsoever."
The episode ended with Menendez remembering what it was like to wait for his sentencing.
"Not knowing whether I would be allowed to live or sentenced to die, I really wasn't sure which was worse, which was better," he said, "life in prison forever or to be put to death?"
Both Erik and Lyle are serving life sentences.
"The Menendez Murders: Erik Tells All" airs Thursdays on A&E, with the finale airing Dec. 28.