Amir Eslaminia letter

Lyle Menendez wrote a letter to Amir “Brian” Eslaminia asking him to lie on the witness stand and testify that the brothers asked for a handgun the day before the killings. The letter, postmarked July 9, 1991, was obtained by Beverly Hills police detective Les Zoeller in 1995, and introduced as evidence in the retrial.

Transcript of letter:
(Note: This is not an official transcript of the letter. This transcript has been extracted from prosecutor David Conn’s closing argument and is presented the way the court reporter took it down. It’s entirely possible that the court reporter failed to take down every word written in the actual letter, and it’s also possible that the punctuation in the letter is different than this transcript.)

BRIAN, HELLO. I HOPE YOU’RE WELL AND YOUR BROTHER IS UP IN SPIRITS. I AM SURE HE HAS LEARNED PATIENCE BY NOW. HERE IS AN OUTLINE OF WHAT WE NEED. IT IS NOT CRUCIAL THAT YOUR STORY MATCH OURS PERFECTLY, SO DON’T WORRY.

YOU RECEIVED A CALL AT YOUR APARTMENT OR HOUSE ON AUGUST THE 19TH, A SATURDAY, IN THE LATE MORNING. YOU ANSWERED THE PHONE, AND IT WAS ERIK. HE SOUNDED VERY NERVOUS. HE ASKED IF HE COULD MEET YOU OUTSIDE YOUR APARTMENT TO TALK WITH HIS BROTHER, LYLE. YOU AGREED, AND GAVE HIM DIRECTIONS. YOU DECIDE WHERE WE MET, PERHAPS A PARKING LOT, AND LET ME KNOW OVER THE PHONE. WE ARRIVED 20 MINUTES OR SO LATER IN ERIK’S MAROON FORD ESCORT. IT’S A TWO-DOOR, AND ERIK WAS DRIVING. YOU SAT ALONE IN THE BACK. THE CAR WAS VERY MESSY. THERE WERE ALL KINDS OF CLOTHES, SHOES AND TENNIS RACQUETS THAT YOU PUSHED INTO THE SPACE BEHIND YOUR SEAT. THE CAR IS A HATCHBACK. THE WHEELS ARE BLACK SPOKE. THE INTERIOR IS GRAY FELT. THERE IS A SUNROOF, YOU THINK.

LYLE SAID HELLO AND WAS SITTING IN THE FRONT. ERIK BEGAN TO DRIVE AROUND. ERIK SAID THEY WERE IN GREAT DANGER, AND NEEDED TWO HANDGUNS. BOTH OF US SEEMED JUMPY, RUSHED AND NERVOUS. ERIK WAS RUSHED. YOU ASKED HIM WHY YOU WERE IN DANGER. ERIK SAID HE COULDN’T SAY, BUT YOU WOULD HAVE TO TRUST HIM. YOU SUGGESTED THAT THEY GET HELP FROM THE POLICE AND HIDE OUT WITH THEM. ERIK SAID NO, THE POLICE WON’T BELIEVE THEM, AND THEY WOULD ONLY PUT THEM IN GREATER DANGER. YOU SUGGESTED PERHAPS THEIR FATHER COULD HELP, SINCE ERIK HAD ALWAYS TOLD YOU HE HAD POWERFUL CONNECTIONS, MAFIA. LYLE SAID YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO EXPLAIN. CAN YOU HELP US OR NOT? IT WAS CLEAR BY HIS TONE OF VOICE THAT HE WAS VERY SERIOUS AND AFRAID. YOU’VE NEVER SEEN LYLE SO NERVOUS OR EVER AFRAID. SO YOU STOPPED ASKING QUESTIONS AND SAID, ‘YES, YOU HAD ONE HANDGUN AT THE HOUSE.’ WE ALL DROVE BACK, AND YOU RAN IN AND GOT IT. LYLE TOOK IT AND THEY SAID THEY WOULD BE IN TOUCH. WE THEN DROVE OFF. YOU TOLD NOBODY ABOUT THE INCIDENT, AND YOU WERE VERY NERVOUS THAT WE WERE IN TROUBLE. THE GUN YOU GAVE WAS LOADED. YOU DIDN’T GIVE ANY AMMUNITION WITH IT.

WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT OUR PARENTS’ DEATHS YOU WERE SHOCKED, AND YOU REALIZED LYLE AND ERIK WERE RIGHT. THERE WAS REAL DANGER.

ERIK CAME OVER AROUND TUESDAY WITH A .22 AND GAVE BACK THE GUN. YOU SAID, ‘KEEP IT AND HIDE.’ ERIK WAS STILL VERY NERVOUS, BUT SAID, NO, HE AND LYLE WOULD BE FINE; THAT, OBVIOUSLY, WHOEVER IT WAS ONLY WANTED HIS PARENTS. ERIK WAS ADAMANT AND DIDN’T WANT TO DISCUSS IT. HE LEFT PROMPTLY.

SINCE THEN YOU HAVE KEPT IT A SECRET, AND YOU FELT THAT ONLY WHAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR MIND IS PROOF WE DIDN’T DO IT, BECAUSE WHY WOULD WE NEED HANDGUNS IF WE SUPPOSEDLY BOUGHT SHOTGUNS THE DAY BEFORE ON FRIDAY? HOWEVER, AFTER LISTENING TO ALL THE EVIDENCE THE MEDIA TALKS ABOUT, YOU THINK PERHAPS YOU DON’T KNOW THE WHOLE STORY. YOU TOLD ERIK NOT TO LET THE LAWYERS KNOW ABOUT ACTUALLY GIVING US A GUN, BECAUSE THE GUN IS ILLEGAL AND YOUR MOM WOULD FREAK OUT.

I HAVE AN UNTRACEABLE HANDGUN. I CAN GET IT FOR YOU TO USE, AS THE ONE YOU GAVE US, IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE ONE. LET ME KNOW OVER THE PHONE. I’LL HAVE BEATRICE GET IT FOR YOU IF NECESSARY. ANYWAY, YOU HAVE DECIDED THAT IT MAY BE IMPORTANT FOR LYLE AND ERIK TO TELL THEIR LAWYERS ABOUT THE GUN.

THAT IS BASICALLY THE IMPORTANT FACTS. THERE MAY BE LITTLE THINGS, LIKE ERIK TOLD YOU WE WERE TAKEN OUT OF THE WILL AWHILE BACK BY MOM AND DAD; AND OCCASIONALLY YOU USED TO WATCH VIDEOS OVER OUR HOUSE WITH OUR MOM AND DAD. YOU ONCE WATCHED THE MOVIE AT ‘AT CLOSE RANGE’ WITH SEAN PENN. WATCH IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. MY DAD SAID THE MOVIE IS UNREALISTIC BECAUSE THE FATHER WOULD HAVE KILLED THE SON AS SOON AS THE TROUBLE STARTED, AND NOT WAITED. YOU, OF COURSE, WERE SHOCKED AT THE STATEMENT. YOU’VE ALWAYS FELT MY DAD WAS A POWERFUL AND SCARY PERSON. YOU NEVER FELT WELCOME.

YOUR MEMORY OF THESE THINGS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT GOOD. HOWEVER, I THINK THE SATURDAY STORY, AND PERHAPS THE MOVIE INCIDENT WILL BE ENOUGH. TOO MUCH IS NOT GOOD.

I’LL BE CALLING YOU. PLEASE LEAVE A MESSAGE.

ALSO, SCRIBBLE OVER THE WRITING OF THIS LETTER WITH MAGIC MARKER, SO THAT IF IT FALLS INTO THE WRONG HANDS IT’S NOT LEGIBLE. I OBVIOUSLY TRUST YOU COMPLETELY; HOWEVER, I SLEEP BETTER IF I’M SURE THINGS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED. MISTAKES HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE PAST.

LISTEN, I REALIZE THAT OUR COMMUNICATION HAS BEEN SPARSE, BUT I PREFER IT THAT WAY FOR NOW. I REALLY CAN’T EXPRESS ENOUGH HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE YOUR LOYAL FRIENDSHIP FOR MY BROTHER AND I. OF COURSE, IF THERE IS ANYTHING WE CAN EVER DO FOR YOU, LET US KNOW.

TAKE CARE.
L

[Back page]
YOU CAN TELL LESLIE YOU WOULD RATHER TALK IN PERSON TO BUY TIME IF SHE GETS AHOLD OF YOU. I’D WAIT UNTIL WE STRAIGHTEN OUT WHAT GUN YOU WILL USE FIRST. IT WOULD SAVE ME TROUBLE IF YOU ALREADY HAD A HANDGUN. I WILL, OF COURSE, REPLACE IT FOR YOU. IF NOT, I AM TRYING TO GET AN OLD ONE YOU CAN SAY YOUR DAD OWNED.

I THINK IF YOU TELL YOUR BROTHER TO SAY YOU TOLD HIM THAT WE HAD BORROWED THE GUN WAY BACK, SHORTLY AFTER MY PARENTS’ DEATH, THAT WOULD BE GOOD, BECAUSE THEN YOU CAN TELL LESLIE YOU DIDN’T KEEP IT TOTALLY A SECRET, SINCE YOU TOLD YOUR OLDER BROTHER. IF SHE WANTS TO SEE HIM TO VERIFY IT, THAT’S COOL. YOUR BROTHER DOESN’T HAVE TO KNOW ANY DETAILS, JUST THAT YOU TOLD HIM, WHENEVER THE DATE OF THE FIRST TIME YOU VISITED HIM AFTER MY PARENTS’ DEATH, THAT WE BORROWED THE HANDGUN.

DO YOU NOT FALL FOR ANY OF LESLIE’S TRICKS. SHE MAY SAY, ‘ERIK TOLD ME THAT THIS STORY IS NOT TRUE.’ JUST MAINTAIN THAT IT IS ALL TRUE, TO THE BEST OF YOUR MEMORY.

ALL RIGHT. YOU CAN HANDLE IT FROM HERE.

CIAO.
L


A few sentences had been redacted from the letter by court order. Where precisely they belong in the letter is unclear to me. They read as follows:
“Leslie wants to interview you as soon as you’re in town. She may even come up to see you.”
“Leslie will tell you what she needs.”
“Once you are comfortable with your role, I see no reason why that interview shouldn’t take place whenever she’d like.”
“Erik and I have told our lawyers this story already, except we said there was no gun. You will say there was. And when Leslie says, but the boys said there was no gun, you say, well, I told Erik to say there wasn’t a gun because of my mom.”

Testimony of Amir Eslaminia:
October 27, 1995
October 30, 1995

Testimony of Les Zoeller:
October 30, 1995
October 31, 1995

The Eslaminia letter was brought up in both Direct examination and Cross-examination of Erik Menendez. It was also a subject addressed in closing arguments by all parties – Prosecution, Erik’s attorney, Lyle’s attorney.

One of the things Eslaminia testified to was that Lyle phoned him seven to nine months after sending the letter to say he was abandoning the plan, “because he had decided to take the stand himself and was going to tell the truth as to what happened, and not go forth with this scenario.”

Charles Gessler emphasized this in closing argument:
“We know Mr. Eslaminia never comes in to trial to testify to any of that. Didn’t happen. The perjury never happened. Why? Because Lyle Menendez called him up and said: “Call it off. I’ve been working with Father Ken. And now I know I should tell the truth, and that’s what I’m going to do. So don’t come in, don’t go through with this…So it never happened. Amir Eslaminia never did go in and testify in that first trial, because Lyle Menendez saw, after working it through, that he should go ahead and tell it the way it really occurred.”

Erik testified regarding Lyle abandoning the plan, “We had a very heart to heart conversation and he told me that he had decided to call Brian and tell him that he would be taking the stand.” “He eventually called Brian and told him not to testify; that he was going to go with the truth.”

However, some evidence seems to contradict Amir Eslaminia’s and Erik Menendez’s testimony that the plan had been abandoned over a year before the first trial.

Les Zoeller testified as follows:
Quenstion: “Did he (Eslaminia) say when these discussions with both Erik and Lyle Menendez took place?”
Answer: “I asked him. He said that the discussions took place from a year prior to the trial, the last trial, a year prior and until the beginning of the trial.”

In the book titled “The Private Diary of Lyle Menendez”, there is on page 120 an entry dated “July 24, 1993, afternoon”. According to the transcript, Lyle says:
I don’t know if you’ve ever fired a shotgun, but its [sic] a joke. I was like really depressed after I went to the Range because I figured these things are pretty useless. If somebody is going to come in and get me or something, I’m not going to have time to whip out a shotgun. So because of that, I still wanted to get the handgun. So maybe I thought I could get one illegally or borrow one from a friend. I went the next day to one of my brother’s friends, whom I didn’t know and tried to get a handgun, and he didn’t have one. He’ll be testifying to that effect too. So I said, f**k it, then we’ll just go with what we have.

Lyle doesn’t state a name just his “brother’s friend, whom I didn’t know.” Could it be Amir Eslaminia he’s referring to? How many of Erik’s friends would Lyle fabricate a story about trying to get a handgun from? If it’s not Eslaminia then why did this other friend never testify, as Lyle says he would? If it’s indeed Eslaminia he’s referring to; considering that opening statements in the first trial took place on July 20, why would Lyle say four days into trial that the friend “will be testifying” about the handgun if the plan had been abandoned over a year before trial?

Another thing Eslaminia testified to was his claim that his conversations about testifying falsely were with Lyle only and that Erik had no part in the plan. This was contradicted by Zoeller, who testified that Eslaminia had said during an interview that Erik “had the whole story, was in on it.” Zoeller also wrote a police report which read in part:
During these visits with Erik and Lyle they discussed what they, Erik and Lyle, thought he could do to help them with their case. It was discussed by the three of them that Amir would testify to a scenario where he had given Erik a handgun for protection. This was to take place before their parents were killed. Erik and Lyle emphasized that the gun was due to fear that they had of their parents. Amir said that as time went on, the three of them, Erik, Lyle and himself, would add dynamics to fit what was needed for trial.

When Zoeller phoned Eslaminia and read him the report to confirm its accuracy Eslaminia made no changes to the above excerpt.

Just as with the attempt to get Jamie Pisarcik to testify falsely, the attempt (successful) to get Traci Baker to testify falsely, we have with Amir Eslaminia yet another attempt by Lyle Menendez to suborn perjury. Erik Menendez was involved with the Baker perjury. Was Erik also involved with the Amir Eslaminia attempt? Eslaminia initially said he was, but changed his story on the witness stand.

Why would there even be a need to fabricate a story about trying to get a handgun in the first place? Lyle kind of answered that himself when he said to Norma Novelli that a shotgun is a “useless” choice of weapon to use in self-defense.

Prosecutor David Conn said the same and more very eloquently in his closing argument:
Now, first of all, why would such a story be fabricated? Here’s why. This whole business about using the shotguns for the killings has a problem with it, and that is why would you purchase a shotgun if you intend to protect yourself? It’s such an awkward weapon to protect yourself.
The defendants are stuck with the shotguns, because they did in fact purchase shotguns, and they did in fact kill their parents with the shotguns. Any why?
Because, as Lyle Menendez said, Lyle Menendez wanted to make it look like a mess. That’s why they purchased the shotguns. That’s why they purchased the more powerful ammunition. They didn’t rely upon just the bird shot, they went out the next day and got buckshot, because they really wanted to make it a mess.
And now they have a problem, and the problem is how do you get fear and self-defense out of that, you see. Because if you’re in fear, you’re going to have — you would want to purchase a handgun. A handgun is going to be much more effective to defend yourself with than a shotgun, because a shotgun is a big and awkward weapon. You can’t conceal it and whip it out at the moment that you need it. So now they have a problem. How do you explain this away?
So there’s two ways they try to explain it away. First you have the testimony of Erik Menendez, in which he says that he went to a gun store here in Los Angeles with his brother, and they tried to purchase a handgun, but there was a 15-day waiting period, and they couldn’t purchase a handgun.
But that story is a lie. I’ll get to that soon with another witness, who demonstrated that that story is a lie.
But the other way that they tried to show that they wanted a handgun, because a handgun would be the weapon of choice, the weapon of self-defense, is by getting Brian Eslaminia to come up with this story and to claim: “Oh, they came to me, and they wanted a handgun,” you see.
Then Erik and Lyle Menendez would be able to say: “See, we were really acting in self-defense. We wanted to get a handgun. Here is Mr. Eslaminia saying that we wanted to get a handgun,” you see.
So that is the purpose for getting — for Brian Eslaminia to come up with this story.

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