One month before she was shot to death, Kitty Menendez told her therapist that she was “worried about Erik and Lyle . . . concerned for lack of conscience, narcissism, and sociopathy they exhibit.”
There are three principal persons involved in this matter: Kitty Menendez, Dr. Lester Summerfield, and Dr. Jerome Oziel.
Most of the information below has been compiled from statements by attorneys in the first 29 minutes of trial video 85. The information is presented in the chronological order in which the events took place. I’m sure some events are missing, as it’s unknown to the general public how many times Dr. Oziel met with Jose and Kitty Menendez and what was discussed during those meetings.
The first paragraph serves to explain the incident that brought Dr. Oziel into the lives of the Menendez family.
In early July of 1988, Erik Menendez and his friend Craig were at the Calabasas home of another friend whose parents were away on vacation. While searching for keys to a van, Erik and Craig found a piece of paper bearing the combination to the friend’s family’s safe. After the safe was opened, Erik removed money and jewelry.
On July 14, 1988, Erik and Lyle Menendez entered the Calabasas residence of the Ginsbergs without permission. They removed a combination safe and its contents from a closet, a VCR, china, silverware, a soloflex machine, IBM computer, and jewelry.
On September 16, 1988, Erik surrendered at the Malibu sheriff station accompanied by his father and a lawyer, and turned over most of the property that had been stolen. Erik gave a statement admitting his involvement in the two thefts without implicating anyone else.
In about August of 1988, Kitty Menendez had a session with her therapist, Dr. Lester Summerfield. (Dr. Summerfield saw Kitty approximately 90 times from February 27, 1987 to August 16, 1989.) According to court statements by prosecutor Lester Kuriyama, Kitty expressed her concern about her sons and their having done the residential burglaries in Calabasas, and asked Dr. Summerfield to refer her to a psychologist who could help her sons. Dr. Summerfield gave three names to Kitty, one of which was Dr. Jerome Oziel.
(The lawyer who represented Erik in the Calabasas proceeding suggested that getting psychological counseling might be a way of persuading the court for a more lenient sentence. Erik later pled guilty. As part of the plea deal was a stipulation that Erik had to undergo counseling.)
Dr. Oziel met with Jose and Kitty on September 30, 1988. He doesn’t recall if he also met Erik that day. Dr. Oziel’s first documented session with Erik was on October 4, 1988, and his first session with Lyle was the following day, October 5, 1988. Dr. Oziel’s last session with Lyle (prior to the murders) was on January 24, 1989. Dr. Oziel continued to see Erik periodically.
In January of 1989, Erik signed a waiver of confidentiality allowing Dr. Oziel to tell Jose and Kitty the content of the therapy sessions. Subsequently to receiving that waiver Oziel had conversations with Jose and Kitty. Oziel’s billing sheet showed he talked to them in February of 1989. During the conversations with Jose and Kitty, Oziel told them things he would not have been able to tell them but for the waiver. (We don’t know what information Dr. Oziel gave Jose and Kitty or what the context of their conversations was. Dr. Oziel met with Jose and Kitty several times. We do know that at some point he told them that their sons were a danger to them.)
On or about February of 1989, Dr. Summerfield saw Kitty. According to court statements by Lester Kuriyama, Kitty expressed her concern about her sons’ sociopathy.
From February 8, 1989 to June 21, 1989, Kitty was not seen by Dr. Summerfield.
On July 19, 1989, Dr. Summerfield saw Kitty. According to the book “Blood Brothers,” Dr. Summerfield’s notes from the session read: “Kitty worried about Erik and Lyle . . . concerned for lack of conscience, narcissism, and sociopathy they exhibit . . . wanted info.”
A month later Kitty and Jose were shot and killed by their sons.
In the first trial, the defense wanted Dr. Summerfield to testify among other things that Kitty suffered from depression, was subject to mood swings, had angry outbursts, was extremely concerned with appearances, had low tolerance for frustration, would be aggressive when frustrated, and that she suffered from chemical dependency, and that she had secrets which she characterized as “sick and embarrassing.” After judge Weisberg ruled, over defense objection, that the prosecution on cross-examination would be allowed to go into Kitty’s concern about her sons’ lack of conscience, their narcissism, and their sociopathy, the defense teams changed their mind and chose not to call Dr. Summerfield to the stand.
The defense attorneys had interviewed Dr. Summerfield. According to court statements by Lyle’s attorney Jill Lansing, Dr. Summerfield said that Kitty had come to him and “explained to him that Dr. Oziel had indicated that he was concerned about Erik and Lyle being narcissistic or sociopathic, and she asked him (Summerfield) to define the terms, and that he opened up the DSM-III and showed her what the criteria was.”
Lansing said that Dr. Summerfield had a “very vague recollection” of the conversation with Kitty.
Dr. Summerfield made conflicting statements to the defense attorneys. In Dr. Summerfield’s first interview with the attorneys he told them that after he looked up the definition of the term “sociopath,” he then told Kitty how given the description she had given him about her sons that they clearly didn’t fit the description of sociopath. However, Dr. Summerfield later told Lansing that when Kitty asked him to define the term “sociopath,” he looked it up but didn’t render an opinion on whether the brothers fit the description.
Dr. Summerfield didn’t spend a lot of time on this subject during the session with Kitty.
According to Lansing, Dr. Summerfield couldn’t remember how Kitty reacted to the information he gave her in response to her question.
The information above raises a lot of questions. Questions that only Kitty Menendez can answer.
Was Kitty’s concern solely a result of the fact that Dr. Oziel had indicated to her that he was concerned? Or had Kitty personally observed behavior on the part of her sons that made her think they lacked a conscience, were narcissistic and sociopathic?
Did Dr. Summefield’s definition of a sociopath put to rest any concern Kitty had that her sons were sociopaths? Or, did it make her even more concerned?