Who are the Menendez brothers and why are TikTokers calling for their release?

They’re currently serving life sentences


In the last few weeks people on TikTok have been getting heavily involved in discussing and sharing videos of famous true crime cases. Last week it was the case of Sofia Juarez and now all anyone wants to talk about is the case of the Menendez brothers.

The Menendez brothers are currently serving life sentences for the murders of their parents Jose and Kitty Menendez. Their trial was highly publicised, there’s been documentaries and a Lifetime movie made about the boys, and now TikTokers want the brothers released from jail on account of the alleged abuse the brothers suffered from their parents.

People are sharing videos from the court case of the Menendez brothers, talking about how “attractive” they are and the hashtag for the brothers on TikTok has nearly 400million views.

@truecrimeallthetimeMore to come! There’s so much in this case we must discuss❤️ ##fyp ##menendezbrothers ##truecrimeanytime ##triggerwarning♬ orijinal ses – ponciklendin

But who exactly are these famous brothers and what are the details of their crimes?

Who are the Menendez brothers?

Lyle and Erik Menendez are American brothers born to Jose and Kitty Menendez in 1968 and 1970. They grew up in New Jersey before moving to Beverly Hills in 1986.

Lyle attended Princeton and Erik was a talented tennis player whilst he attended Beverly Hills High school.

What did the Menendez brothers do?

On 18th August 1989 Erik and Lyle, aged 18 and 21, bought shot guns from a store in San Diego. Two days later on 20th August they shot their parents 15 times whilst they were watching TV.

Lyle shot his father and mother in the face, and they were both shot in the kneecaps in an attempt to make the crimes look like that of a similar organised crime.

They then went to watch the Batman movie, they had ditched the guns and changed their clothes. They then returned home where Lyle called the police and said someone had killed their parents.

They were eventually arrested six months later however in that time they managed to spend an estimated $700,000 on cars, watches, international travel and Lyle even bought a restaurant. They moved out of their family mansion and stayed in adjoining apartments.

How were the Menendez brothers caught?

via Nick Ut/AP/Shutterstock

Though they appeared to be having a good time following the death of their parents, the two were also in therapy with Dr. Jerome Oziel.

The stress of what they had done caused Erik an ulcer and he confessed to Dr Oziel that and Lyle had killed their parents. Dr Oziel’s mistress overheard the tape of his confession and told the police what they had done.

Lyle was then arrested on 8th March 1990 and Erik turned himself in three days later on his return from a tennis tournament in Israel.

The brothers were tried separately and in both cases the jury was deadlocked. They were then retried together and found guilty of murder in 1996. They were sentenced to life in prison with no possibility for parole.

Why are people on TikTok calling for them to be released?

Over the last few months many people on TikTok have been sharing videos in support of the brothers trying to get their crimes overturned.

The biggest reason for this is the apparent motive the brothers had for killing their parents. Lyle and Erik Menendez claim their father had sexually and emotionally abused them throughout their lives.

People on TikTok are now sharing clips from the first trial in which Erik and Lyle detail the alleged abuse they suffered. TikTokers suggest the brothers should have been given manslaughter sentences and want to reframe the narrative that the boys did not kill their parents for money but instead did it to end the alleged abuse.

One TikToker Jazmine Shah said: “They didn’t do it for the money. They didn’t, you know, do it because they hated their parents. They wanted the abuse to stop.”

People have apparently been sending letters to Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County DA Geoge Gascón to explain why they think the sentencing was wrong.

Erik and Lyle Menendez are currently in the same prison in San Diego after being separated for over 20 years in different facilities.

Featured image credit: Nick Ut/AP/Shutterstock

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