Photograph of Jose Menendez with his sons

This photograph was a controversial piece of evidence in the first Menendez trial. The defense claimed that the photograph showed Jose Menendez’s hand in an inappropriate position in Lyle’s lap.

The photograph was not introduced as evidence in the retrial. It was marked as an exhibit and a brief hearing regarding its relevance was held. The photograph was shown to Marta Cano during her testimony and she identified the persons in it but the jury was never shown the photograph. Judge Weisberg ruled it would not be received into evidence:
“I don’t find there is any probative value in that particular photograph. It is just a photograph showing certain individuals when the photographer snapped the photograph. It doesn’t prove or disprove anything in dispute in this case.”

The photograph has been subject to much debate over the position of Jose Menendez’s hand. Clearly, the defense and prosecution interpretations differ dramatically as is evident from reading the hearing.

Assuming that Jose’s hand was touching Lyle’s crotch, could it be how an arm and hand would naturally rest, sitting in this position?

This was a family photograph presumably to be shown to visiting relatives and/or family friends. If Jose would, as the brothers claim, rather kill his sons than risk public exposure of the sexual abuse secret, would he really grope his son in a family photograph that visitors to his house could see?

Decide for yourself.