Barbara Walters interviews the Menendez brothers

Aired: June 28, 1996.

Video:
https://abcnews.go.com/US/video/barbara-walters-interviews-menendez-brothers-1996-44578929

The video is not the complete interview. A few other fragments from the interview can be seen in the 2015 “Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals” documentary. None of the fragments from the documentary are included in the transcript. [VO] is shorthand for voice over.

BARBARA WALTERS: Erik and Lyle Menendez, the infamous brothers, the savagery of their crime, the murders of both their mother and father, seemed beyond comprehension. Tonight, for the very first time out of court, you will hear their story. Tonight, watching our interview, you can reach your own verdict about them. We begin with the crime itself. [VO] A hot August night, 1989 – the Beverly Hills mansion of entertainment executive Jose Menendez. He and his wife Kitty are watching television in the family room. Suddenly, a brutal volley of shotgun fire. Jose Menendez is killed by a close in shot to the head. He has five other shotgun wounds. Kitty Menendez’s body is riddled with shotgun pellets.

LESTER KURIYAMA: She had 10 wounds on her. She was getting blasted all over that room.

VOICE OF LYLE MENENDEZ: Someone killed my parents.

VOICE OF 911 OPERATOR: Pardon me?

VOICE OF LYLE MENENDEZ: Someone killed my parents.

VOICE OF 911 OPERATOR: Were they shot?

VOICE OF LYLE MENENDEZ: Yes.

VOICE OF 911 OPERATOR: They were shot?

VOICE OF LYLE MENENDEZ: Yes.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] The voice of Lyle Menendez, then 21 years old, who tells police that he and his brother Erik, then 18, discovered the bodies as they returned home from a movie. Lyle and Erik Menendez lied successfully for months. But if their crime was a horror movie, their undoing was the stuff of soap opera. Erik, in torment, confessed his crime to his therapist, Dr. Jerome Oziel. Lyle then also admitted to the murders. Their confession was overheard by Oziel’s mistress, Judalon Smyth, and she went to the police. Lyle was arrested in California. Erik, who had been traveling overseas, voluntarily flew home to surrender. Three years later, the Menendez brothers went on trial for their lives.

ERIK MENENDEZ: I was just firing as I went into the room. I just started firing.

LESLIE ABRAMSON: In what direction?

ERIK MENENDEZ: In front of me.

LESLIE ABRAMSON: What was in front of you?

ERIK MENENDEZ: My parents.

LYLE MENENDEZ: And I remember firing directly at them.

JILL LANSING: You reloaded? Is that, ‘Yes’?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Yes.

JILL LANSING: And what did you do after you reloaded?

LYLE MENENDEZ: I ran around and shot my mom.

PAMELA BOZANICH: This is the woman who gave birth to them. This is what they did to their mother.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] The jury heard tapes of the brother’s confession to Dr Oziel.

LYLE MENENDEZ: There was no way I was going to make a decision to kill my mother without Erik’s consent.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] When their turn came, Erik and Lyle Menendez told a rapt courtroom that the murder of their parents was an act of self defense. They said they were in fear of their lives from a controlling father who had been sexually abusing them.

LYLE MENENDEZ: He raped me.

JILL LANSING: Did you cry?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Yes.

JILL LANSING: Did you bleed?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Yes.

JILL LANSING: Were you scared?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Very.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] Lyle said his abuse stopped when he was eight, but that he didn’t know until just before the murders that Erik was being molested, too.

LESLIE ABRAMSON: What do you believe was the originating cause of you and your brother ultimately winding up shooting your parents?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Me telling.

LESLIE ABRAMSON: You telling what?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Me telling Lyle that-

LESLIE ABRAMSON: You telling Lyle what? Was it you telling Lyle about something that was happening?

ERIK MENENDEZ: My dad- my dad had been molesting me.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] The brothers’ testimony was compelling and effective. Relatives testified on their behalf about incidents in which their father treated the sons harshly, though none of them could actually confirm the allegations of sexual abuse. The jurors could not decide between verdicts of murder and manslaughter.

STANLEY WEISBERG: I find that the jury is hopelessly deadlocked and the court declares a mistrial.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] In August of 1995, now six years after their parents’ murders, the Menendez brothers went on trial again. This time, there were no video cameras. Erik testified but Lyle chose not to. Judge Stanley Weisberg again presided, but in a major blow for them, limited the brothers’ claims to self defense. There were far fewer grounds this time for a possible verdict of manslaughter. The jury deliberated for less than four days. The verdict? Lyle and Erik Menendez both guilty of first degree murder. The jury spent three more days deciding between life and death. The verdict here was life in prison with no parole. The Menendez brothers have spent more than six years in this building – the Los Angeles County Jail. Erik lives in the identical cell next to this one. It measures seven and a half by nine feet. Lyle’s cell, in another wing of the jail, is slightly smaller. Both brothers are segregated from the general population. Each of the brothers separately is allowed up to three hours of exercise a week on the jail’s roof. Erik and Lyle Menendez will be moved to state prison, perhaps even to separate prisons, this summer. Our interview took place in the jail’s administrative wing, some distance from their cells. [on camera] You may find Erik and Lyle Menendez to be cunning and manipulative, as their second jury seems to have – pronouncing them guilty of first degree murder. Or, like many of the jurors at their first trial, you may decide that they are credible and that their story strikes a sympathetic chord. That is perhaps for you to determine. My job was to ask the questions, beginning with this one. [interviewing] What went through your minds when you heard that verdict – first degree murder, guilty?

ERIK MENENDEZ: That I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison without any possibility of ever getting released and you just- you’re devastated. I was devastated.

BARBARA WALTERS: It could have been death. Did you think that?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I was terrified that they would give either one of us death and that’s- it’s scary.

BARBARA WALTERS: It’s important to you to stay together when you get moved to the state prison?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Very important. That is what’s gotten us through these six years and through our life. The family that Erik and I grew up in, we had to be there for each other throughout and it really created a bond that gets us through very rough periods.

BARBARA WALTERS: Some people might say, ‘Why should we put them together? I mean look what they did, they should be punished as much as possible. Let’s separate them.’ What do you say to that? You know people will say that. Some.

ERIK MENENDEZ: There isn’t- there’s nothing to say to that. What we did was awful. I mean, I wish I could go back. We will spend the rest of our life in prison. But if I’m not- if we’re not put in the same prison, there’s a good probability I will never see him again and that- that I- there’s some things that you cannot take and there’s some things that you can endure. With everything taken away, it would be the last, you know, it’s the last thing you can take.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do you think the media has portrayed you fairly? Can you tell?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I don’t know if anyone can be portrayed fairly in the media, who they are.

BARBARA WALTERS: Well let me say it, there are people, a great number of people who think that you two are spoiled brats, that you are evil, that you are monsters. What do you say to them?

ERIK MENENDEZ: It’s not who I am but I can’t defend that. Because I came from a family of wealth, that doesn’t make me spoiled.

LYLE MENENDEZ: I would be surprised if anybody that was present at the trial and saw the whole thing – rather than snippets on the news, would feel that.

BARBARA WALTERS: A jury found you both guilty.

LYLE MENENDEZ: Right, but I don’t think- you aren’t guilty because they found you spoiled.

BARBARA WALTERS: Or evil.

LYLE MENENDEZ: Or evil.

ERIK MENENDEZ: Just a normal- I’m just a normal kid.

BARBARA WALTERS: Oh, Erik, you’re a normal kid who killed your parents.

ERIK MENENDEZ: I know.

BARBARA WALTERS: And you still say you’re a normal kid?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Well, I didn’t have normal experiences, but I am. I- I- I did that and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened and wish that I could- I could take that moment back or change what happened. But it- it’s- it’s hard to live with that.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do you feel remorse?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Tremendous remorse and I think-

ERIK MENENDEZ: There’s tremendous pain. I mean, from the second that I got back to the house after the shootings, I saw what happened and I said, ‘This is wrong. This is awful. How could this have happened?’ I couldn’t accept it.

BARBARA WALTERS: You couldn’t accept it, but you called the police, you pretended that you hadn’t done it, you cried, you went off on a spending spree. I mean, we all read about it. You bought Rolexes, you bought cars, you bought- you didn’t say, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’ and turn yourself in.

ERIK MENENDEZ: Well that’s not- that’s not really what happened.

BARBARA WALTERS: Well I sort of stuffed it all together but-

ERIK MENENDEZ: Yeah, you did a good job at it. We got back to the house, the police were there and it was a matter of telling them you did it or just saying, ‘I don’t know who did it.’ And that’s what we did, and if I could go back, perhaps I’d say I did it.

LYLE MENENDEZ: And part of that started from the fact that we waited afterwards and the police did not come and in those- in that time that we waited and waited, you know, we did make a bad decision to not have to-

ERIK MENENDEZ: We expected the police to be there. I mean, 12 shots-

BARBARA WALTERS: You expected the police to come there and arrest you?

ERIK MENENDEZ: -12 shots in the middle of Beverly Hills on a Sunday night and no one calls the police? We’re waiting at the house and no one shows up, and I still can’t believe it.

BARBARA WALTERS: So you called the police, but at that point, you had already decided-

LYLE MENENDEZ: We had decided not to-

BARBARA WALTERS: -that you weren’t going to say anything?

LYLE MENENDEZ: We were very stunned and we felt that we would go to jail, obviously, and we- it was a selfish reason to just not want to have to go through that.

BARBARA WALTERS: What about spending the money? You know – the cars, watches, invested in businesses, the good life?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Well it was the same life before or afterwards.

BARBARA WALTERS: With more money?

ERIK MENENDEZ: With more money, but I didn’t know what to do with the money. I went to- it got to a point where I have all this money and so much pain, I don’t know what to do with it and eventually-

BARBARA WALTERS: I don’t know. You’re losing me. I would think that you would be in such grief that you wouldn’t be able to buy Rolexes and invest in businesses.

LYLE MENENDEZ: I don’t-

BARBARA WALTERS: Explain it to me. Let me understand. I’m- you know, I’m the public.

LYLE MENENDEZ: I don’t think that it’s understandable. I mean I- people react to a traumatic event like that in different ways.

BARBARA WALTERS: You went to your psychologist, Dr. Oziel, and told him that you had committed this crime.

ERIK MENENDEZ: It got to a point where I could no longer live. I felt that I was the worst person on earth and I- I- I- it got to a point where I couldn’t live with myself anymore and I needed help and so I went to him, and that is what the catalyst was for me getting arrested, and Lyle.

BARBARA WALTERS: You’ve had a lot of therapy.

ERIK MENENDEZ: Six years of intense therapy.

BARBARA WALTERS: How are you different than the man who came in here?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I’m six years older. I’m a lot more mature. I came in here as an 18 year old kid who didn’t know anything about life.

BARBARA WALTERS: What did you learn about yourself?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I learned that- I learned what love was about. I learned what love was about because of my grandmother, because of all my relatives, who didn’t say ‘I can’t believe you did this.’ Instead they said ‘Erik, I know who you are. You’re not this type of person. You’re not the type of person who could do this for no reason.’

BARBARA WALTERS: Have you had therapy, Lyle?

LYLE MENENDEZ: The same. The same therapy and as- it really works to just have someone you can communicate with that’s willing to listen. All our lives it was just sort of fending off things.

BARBARA WALTERS: It almost sounds like prison was a good thing for you.

ERIK MENENDEZ: It was.

BARBARA WALTERS: It was?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I mean, at first, you know, I- I killed my parents and I spent six months out there in horrible agony because I had done this. I mean, a year before, I told my mother how much I loved her. I could not have imagined doing this even a week before to her. I- I- I adored her and then suddenly you’re arrested and everyone can know you did it and you can finally tell people, and it’s a relief.

BARBARA WALTERS: Lyle, you’re looking at your brother like you almost never heard this before. Tell me how you felt.

LYLE MENENDEZ: You know, for me emotionally being in prison conditions was- was really not- emotionally it was not a shocking difference from the life we have lived because we- we lived really a very stressful, fearful life and to me the- the- the- it was kind of like I felt this- I should be punished and it didn’t feel good, but there was a part of you that feels like-

ERIK MENENDEZ: It’s right.

LYLE MENENDEZ: It’s- it’s better.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do you get a lot of mail?

LYLE MENENDEZ: We- we still get a tremendous amount of mail.

BARBARA WALTERS: Hundreds?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Not hundreds, thousands over the years.

BARBARA WALTERS: We asked your lawyers to give us a sample of some of your letters. A great many of them seem to deal with- from people who have been abused themselves and relate to you. Lyle, what do you say to people who write to you?

LYLE MENENDEZ: A lot of people that have written were very- they drew a lot of strength from watching the trial and from seeing Erik and I. And I’ve gotten mail after the verdict from people who are discouraged, and I wanted to say to them to not lose hope because of this one case and this one verdict, a very unique situation here, and that this is not- it does not mean that if they go get help people won’t believe them or people will treat them harshly or they’ll be ridiculed. I don’t feel they will be.

ERIK MENENDEZ: That’s not to say do what we did. Don’t do what we did.

BARBARA WALTERS: Yeah.

ERIK MENENDEZ: But don’t be afraid to get help.

BARBARA WALTERS: But don’t be afraid to get some help.

LYLE MENENDEZ: People that want to reach out to social workers for help but are ashamed or are afraid.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do you also get love letters?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Yeah, some.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do you find that strange?

LYLE MENENDEZ: It’s a strange phenomenon that a lot of love letters come in from people that don’t know you at all.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do either one of you have girlfriends? Do either one of you have someone who cares particularly about you, now, at this point in your life?

LYLE MENENDEZ: I do. I have someone who-

BARBARA WALTERS: You do?

LYLE MENENDEZ: – I love very much and is a saint to put up with everything that comes with this.

BARBARA WALTERS: Can you tell us who she is?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Yeah. Her name is Anna Eriksson and I hope that we can- we can get married. Even though it’s a very limited relationship because of where we are. The exchange of love and sharing, it keeps you in touch with yourself and softer and, you know, otherwise you can become very hard and cold in here.

BARBARA WALTERS: Is this someone you knew before prison?

LYLE MENENDEZ: No.

BARBARA WALTERS: This is someone who began to write to you and meet you?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Well, she wrote me many years ago, but I’ve come to know her well. But just someone that I met through the mail.

BARBARA WALTERS: And she wants to marry you?

LYLE MENENDEZ: She does.

BARBARA WALTERS: Erik?

ERIK MENENDEZ: No, not at the moment.

BARBARA WALTERS: You’re not going to meet a lot in prison, Erik.

ERIK MENENDEZ: No, I probably won’t. It- it’s hard. Lyle’s more able to have that type of relationship.

BARBARA WALTERS: Erik, you know that the prosecutor brought up the fact that you might have been a homosexual and that this might have caused some of the fury on your father’s part.

ERIK MENENDEZ: Yes, he did.

BARBARA WALTERS: I didn’t- I didn’t hear about girlfriends.

ERIK MENENDEZ: They were there.

BARBARA WALTERS: I guess what I just have to say to you is, are you gay?

ERIK MENENDEZ: No. No. The prosecutor brought that up because I was sexually molested and he felt in his own thinking that if I was sodomized by my father that I must have enjoyed it and therefore I must be gay and the people that are gay out there must be sexually molested or they wouldn’t be, is what he felt. And it’s- it was upsetting to hear. But I’m not gay but a lot of gay people write and feel connected to me.

LYLE MENENDEZ: A problem at the trial was the gender bias that because there we were dealing with males and – in an incest family – that- there’s sort of perceptions that well maybe it was something that he wanted, something that he allowed to happen, that he shouldn’t be allowed to feel afraid because he’s a male. I really felt that people might have seen this case very differently if it were a sister that I was protecting, or that was involved in this and not a brother.

BARBARA WALTERS: You know this whole business of abuse excuse, that you were abused by your parents, sexually abused, emotionally abused by this tough, unyielding father – but there are lots of people who are abused sexually and otherwise and they don’t kill their parents, and you’ve been ridiculed for this abuse excuse. What do you say about it?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Abuse excuse is a word that Alan Dershowitz made up not knowing anything about the case. If- I mean I- to simplify it to its simplest degree, if a person is raped, a man or a woman, and she kills the man who raped her, is it an excuse that the reason she killed him is because she was raped? Of course not. I certainly never felt that what I did was justified or right. It was just a question of how wrong was it.

LYLE MENENDEZ: That was a big misperception about this case, that it was about justification or excuse and my brother and I essentially plead guilty. That was very hard for me to hear, the ridicule about that, because we- I really felt that Erik and I- we could have gone to trial like most people and just sort of- we weren’t there, it wasn’t us who had that trial.

ERIK MENENDEZ: Lyle-

BARBARA WALTERS: What do you mean you could have gone to trial and ‘We weren’t there’?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Well you could go to trial and just say that I was, you know, chipping golf balls at the time and I wasn’t there, and Erik and I went to trial and said ‘We did this. This is our-‘

BARBARA WALTERS: No, there were tapes. There were tapes.

ERIK MENENDEZ: The tapes became admissible because we said we did it. Lyle and I fought because he wanted- he felt that telling the world that dad was a sexual torturer was killing dad twice, and he did not want to kill dad twice and he fought and he said, ‘I don’t want to go up there, I’m not going to take the stand, I’m not going to do it.’ And then when he did, there was a great outpouring but there was also people laughing at him, and it was strange.

BARBARA WALTERS: Erik, you were able to tell your psychologist that you had killed your parents but you were not able to tell your psychologist that your father had abused you?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Unless you’ve been molested, you can’t realize how hard it is to tell.

BARBARA WALTERS: Because of shame?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Because of shame.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] Their story continues now, the scene being set for murder. [interviewing] Describe your relationship with your father. What words come into your mind?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Brutal, painful, torturous and yet I thought that he was the most powerful and brilliant person I had ever met.

LYLE MENENDEZ: I was his firstborn son. That was very important to him. And my bond with him was, I thought, strong because we had been through so much together but it was difficult to see the things that were going on.

BARBARA WALTERS: The things that were going on, that is, when you learned that he was sexually molesting your brother?

LYLE MENENDEZ: He had sexually molested me before I was a teenager, and it was a different- much different experience than Erik’s.

BARBARA WALTERS: Because you were little?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Because I was little, I guess.

BARBARA WALTERS: You know, there are some questions that everybody asks like, why didn’t you run away?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I wish that I could have. I tried to run away when I was 12, and my father found me. He caught me and said, ‘If you ever run away I will kill you, I will find you and I will kill you.’

BARBARA WALTERS: Suppose you left and you- I don’t know what- became a waiter and moved away. You still thought he’d find you?

ERIK MENENDEZ: He would find me and probably kill me. I thought for certain he would kill me.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do you still think that?

ERIK MENENDEZ: Oh, absolutely.

BARBARA WALTERS: Did you love your mother or like your mother?

LYLE MENENDEZ: I loved my mother and I tried to help her. My mother was a person in a lot of pain and she was alcoholic and she was suicidal.

BARBARA WALTERS: Did she know about the abuse- the sexual abuse?

LYLE MENENDEZ: She knew.

BARBARA WALTERS: And didn’t do anything.

LYLE MENENDEZ: She knew and it doesn’t seem that she did anything.

BARBARA WALTERS: Do you still think about the night of the murder?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I do. Every day.

BARBARA WALTERS: You both do? Tell me as clearly as you can why you murdered your parents that night.

ERIK MENENDEZ: The first thing that comes to mind is terror. I was so afraid. A few days before, I had said to myself, ‘I am never going to let my father touch me again.’ After I told Lyle that it had been continuing on, I had- I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to let him touch me again.’ And just before the shootings, my dad told me to get to my room and that he would be there in a minute, and I- he was going to come up and there was going to be sex, and it was like an explosion in my mind.

BARBARA WALTERS: But you’d bought the guns and so it wasn’t something that just happened that moment. You’d thought about it.

ERIK MENENDEZ: No.

BARBARA WALTERS: You bought the guns in advance. They just weren’t in the house.

ERIK MENENDEZ: Yes, we bought the guns in advance.

BARBARA WALTERS: So this didn’t just happen that moment.

ERIK MENENDEZ: We bought the guns- we bought the guns, there was a- there was many- a series of confrontations and blowups in the house. My dad, when it first was revealed that I had told Lyle about the secret, my dad said to Lyle, ‘You’re going to tell everyone and I’m not going to let that happen.’

BARBARA WALTERS: Take me through your mind, Lyle.

LYLE MENENDEZ: I cannot separate and say ‘This is why this happened.’ I- my father was threatening us and so there was fear, but there was great, you know, I- there was anger on my part, and my mother was aware and had aligned herself with my father and it was- there was a great deal of confusion. This happened all in just three days and I just- I wish- I’d give anything to just turn back that one page of my life.

BARBARA WALTERS: The other big question, you killed your father, who was molesting you. Why did you kill your mother?

ERIK MENENDEZ: On Thursday night before, one of the- in one of the explosions I was running downstairs and I was crying, and my mother was on the couch and she had been drinking and she said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ And I said, ‘Nothing. Nothing. You wouldn’t understand.’ And she said, ‘Oh I understand. What do you think, I’m stupid?’ And she told me that she knew, that she had known all my life what my father was doing. And it was like I didn’t even know who she was anymore and I just saw dad and mom as the same person at that point. I saw them as a single person.

LYLE MENENDEZ: Really the first time that this secret about what was happening with dad and Erik was discussed openly in the family in a very angry way – I don’t know about Erik, but I completely lost control of myself and I, in that time I didn’t separate. I knew my mother and my father- I just, I was just- it was just adrenaline and fear and anger. I-

ERIK MENENDEZ: Lost control.

LYLE MENENDEZ: There’s no- there is no explanation. There isn’t any and we don’t offer one.

BARBARA WALTERS: But you had thought about this earlier because you had bought the guns several days before?

LYLE MENENDEZ: We knew that this could end- this could- a violent confrontation could occur, because my father had threatened my life.

BARBARA WALTERS: You still think your father would have killed you for revealing this secret? You both still feel that?

ERIK MENENDEZ: There’s no question.

BARBARA WALTERS: Really?

LYLE MENENDEZ: I still believe that. I don’t believe that he was in the process of killing us that moment on that evening.

BARBARA WALTERS: I see. Yeah.

LYLE MENENDEZ: But I, you know- and I don’t think that this- it might seem, because there are so few cases that come to the public’s attention like this, that this has never occurred ever before in the country, and in fact there are over 200 parricides a year that involve incest families and so, you know, I felt it completely then and now I believe that, but I would not shoot my parents now, no matter what.

BARBARA WALTERS: How, now, would you have resolved it? Now, what, almost seven years later? What do you think you should have done?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I would have never told. I got Lyle into this. I’m- I went to him and I said, ‘Lyle I can’t live anymore with what’s going on,’ and got him involved. He was waiting to go- they had bought him a condominium. He was going to Princeton. He had all the money.

BARBARA WALTERS: So it was your fault for telling your brother?

ERIK MENENDEZ: It’s my fault and I got him involved and said, ‘I need your help.’ And five days later, my parents were dead.

BARBARA WALTERS: So it’s your fault?

ERIK MENENDEZ: It’s completely my fault.

LYLE MENENDEZ: He was suicidal at the time, and it was just a last thing to reach out. I was obviously who he was going to reach out to and we- I decided to confront my father rather than just sort of never- not say anything and just have Erik and I leave which, if I could back, that’s what I would do. I would just say, ‘Erik’s old enough now; he wants to leave.’

BARBARA WALTERS: Have you forgiven yourself?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I don’t think it’s possible.

BARBARA WALTERS: Lyle, are you at any kind of peace?

LYLE MENENDEZ: More so than maybe Erik because at this point, for some reason, well before the verdict, I was resigned to bad things and I have, I think, found a place where I can look forward and try to have hope and share myself more with people. I-

BARBARA WALTERS: Hope of what?

LYLE MENENDEZ: Hope of living a life that I can be more proud of and-

BARBARA WALTERS: How, in prison?

LYLE MENENDEZ: There are- you’re confined, but there, you know, there must be- even just in writing people that need help.

ERIK MENENDEZ: If you can help them and convince a single person that has been through our situation that the last thing in the world they should do is act out violently, then you find meaning in your life.

BARBARA WALTERS: If you could say something to your mother and your father – I’m sure you have in your own minds – what would you say?

ERIK MENENDEZ: I am so sorry. I forgive them completely for anything they have done to us. If I had one wish, it would be to be able to have one conversation with them or to change places with them.

LYLE MENENDEZ: I- I- hope some day that I can be with them and have some sort of conversation about what happened. It’s- one of the awful things is that I can’t- we couldn’t communicate that weekend and I still- I can’t. And just that I love them and, you know, that I believe, despite all- everything that happened, that they really loved us and that things just went awry.

BARBARA WALTERS: [VO] Our interview is over. Deputies now arrive to take Erik and Lyle Menendez back to the cell blocks. They were handcuffed and chained for the long walk back. Their legs have been shackled throughout the interview. This had been one of their infrequent opportunities to see one another in jail. The guards will now take each of them to their separate cells and to the certainty of the rest of their lives in prison. [on camera] Formal sentencing for Erik and Lyle Menendez will take place next week. The state will decide later this summer in which prisons the brothers will be placed, whether they will go together and if they will be placed in protective custody. Lyle told us he hoped to marry in the next few days or weeks before he is sent to state prison. Eventually, both brothers hope to work towards college degrees. They pointed out that they have never sold their story for money, have never done interviews for money, although some tabloids have asked them to, and they say they won’t do anything to profit from their crime. According to Attorney Leslie Abramson, who defended Erik at both trials and became his close friend, this case will be appealed but most legal observers say the chances are slim for a new trial. So it is life in prison for the Menendez brothers with no possibility of parole.