Did no one like Jose Menendez?

Prosecutor Pamela Bozanich has stated that it was “very difficult to find anyone who would come forward and say anything good about Jose Menendez; in fact, the only one who did was his secretary.”

The defense on the other hand presented almost three dozen witnesses who had many not so good things to say about Jose. Many different adjectives were used by these witnesses to describe Jose: “Belligerent, manipulative, powerful, rude, nasty, never satisfied, aggresive, frightening, intimidating, cruel, harshest person ever met, had to win, overbearing, confrontational, demeaning, abusive, sadistic, sarcastic, controlling, fake, secretive, demanding, cold, competitive, arrogant, angry, belittling, strict, possessive, ridiculing, humiliating, stern, obnoxious, unfair, ruthless.”

Bozanich’s statement notwithstanding, there were people besides Jose’s secretary who had good things to say about Jose and who liked him.

Jose’s sister Terry testified that “There is a lot of positive things about Jose and Kitty [and] there is a lot of negative things.” Terry described her brother as “charismatic” and “driven.” Terry saw Jose make other people laugh “all the time.” Terry said about her brother and sister-in-law: “I love them. They were great people. That they made a mistake in raising their kids, that was their problem, not mine. But I loved them.”

Terry’s husband, Carlos Baralt, testified that he had known Jose since 1960. He and Terry lived near the Menendez family for “the majority of the time” they knew them and socialized with them “very often.” Carlos acknowledged there were negative things to be said about Jose, but also described Jose as a “Jovial individual. Very charming. Extremely talented. Very intelligent. Great guy to be with.” Carlos liked Jose “very much.”

Kitty Menendez’s brother, Brian Andersen, was the most vocal family member speaking out in defense of Jose and Kitty. In an article headlined “Family, friends decry victims’ court portrayal” which was published in the Los Angeles Daily News on March 21, 1996 (the day after the Menendez brothers were convicted), Brian Andersen was quoted saying, “I think it was a travesty” how Jose and Kitty were portrayed during the trial. “This being a high-profile case created a stage that took two people that were quite sincere, that cared about their family and cared about the world around them, and turned them into people who were considered to be vile, vicious people. And that was the furthest thing from the truth.”

Jose had a mistress named Louise. According to the book “Blood Brothers,” Louise called the prosecution team during the trial to say that “the Jose she had known was nothing like the person being ravaged by the defense.”

Aside from family members and a mistress, many people who worked with Jose at LIVE Entertainment also liked him. Dominick Dunne wrote in Vanity Fair in March of 1994:
“So heavily was public opinion orchestrated to the bad side of Jose Menendez that I did not know until after my last article appeared in this magazine that the executive staff of his company—with a few exceptions, such as Roger Smith, the acting president after his death, who eulogized him at the first memorial service and then took the stand for the defense to say how detestable he was—loved him and respected him greatly. “His death was devastating to the office,” said Marzie Eisenberg, his secretary for eight years. “We adored him, we mourned him. He taught me everything,” said Vicki Greenleaf, his vice president of public relations. “I am outraged by his portrayal,” said Patty Matlen, his director of post-production.”

Roger Smith testified that, “There were quite a few people who genuinely liked him (Jose).”

Vicki Greenleaf was quoted in the Los Angeles Daily News on March 21, 1996 saying, “Jose has been extremely misrepresented throughout the trial. I consider him the best boss I ever had. He was a fair and good person to work with.” Vicki Greenleaf went on to say that, “I’m glad they (Lyle and Erik) didn’t get off. I knew the whole family and didn’t believe the sexual abuse charges. He (Jose) was a high-level businessman and could be very demanding, but as far as something being sick and demented about him, no.”