'Abuse excuse' killers keep the court show rolling
Edward Helmore in Los Angeles looks at the next legal blockbuster to grip the US
Wednesday 23 August 1995
Jury selection begins today but, unlike the first trial, which ended in two hung juries, this time the proceedings will not be televised.
The original trial set the standards for both the OJ-style gavel-to-gavel television coverage and for what has become known as the abuse excuse. The two brothers, now aged 24 and 27, will again present the defence that they shot their wealthy parents in August 1989 after years of sexual abuse during which they feared for their lives.
They testified that on the night of the murders they believed their parents were about to kill them rather than allow the dark secret out.
So they killed them first, as the couple watched television in the family's Beverly Hills mansion.
The prosecution, which is now better prepared for this line of defence, will contend that the defendants' claims of sexual abuse are just the manipulative machinations of two cynical killers who acted out of hatred and greed.
For the retrial, Judge Stanley Weisberg has said that he intends sharply to limit the defence case and does not intend to hear the same parade of teachers, coaches and friends of the defendants who portrayed the Menendez house as a grim place where hugs and smiles were rare.
In spite of the limitations imposed by the judge, the defence, which will again be presented by the lawyer Leslie Abramson, will turn on the question that Lyle Menendez himself asked in a letter to his brother from jail: To what extent are admitted killers responsible for their actions?
The strategy, according to Mr Abramson, is "absolutely authentic and appropriate and legal and real."
The prosecution has that said it will follow a broad theme that it did not stress in the first trial: even if the brothers were abused, was it necessary to kill their parents?
"Any juror would have to wonder how the defendants would claim it was necessary to kill their parents under these circumstances," said deputy district attorney David Conn.
The prosecution will not call the therapist, L Jerome Oziel, to whom the brothers admitted the killings: in the original trial his credibility as a chief prosecution witness suffered after details of his extramarital affairs were made public.
Instead, the prosecution will present an audiotape which was made by Mr Oziel in which the brothers say that they killed their mother to "put her out of her misery" and that their father deserved to die because of his infidelity.
Despite the ruling that the abuse excuse may be used, the trial of the Menendez brothers appears unlikely to deteriorate into the protracted legal wrangling that has characterised the Simpson case.
The Menendez brothers are now broke and are being defended principally by public defenders.
There is one other difference: instead of favouring yellow sweaters to make themselves look warmer and younger, the brothers have elected to wear shirts and ties.
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 George Galloway attacked on Notting Hill street by man 'shouting about the holocaust'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
George Galloway attacked on Notting Hill street by man 'shouting about the holocaust'
Brother and sister, Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy, arrested for 'committing incest after watching 'The Notebook''
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- < Previous
- Next >
£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...
£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...