The 1989 murder of entertainment executive José Menendez and his wife, Kitty, shotgunned to death as they sat in their living room watching television, would become one of the most unforgettable and reported on acts of conspicuous violence to take place in an era in no way short of such crimes. That it would be destined for endless notoriety was obvious from the outset. The couple’s sons, Lyle, age 21, and Erik, 18, had killed their parents, and had then, blind to any concern with appearances, gone on, shortly after the murders, to indulge in shopping sprees whose ground rule was only the best—a part of their history that “Law & Order True Crime” portrays in detail in this eight-part series. Old as it is, minor as it seems compared with all else we were to learn about the brothers, this—the shopping—is never less than fascinating in its grim way. Here’s the purchase of the Rolex, plans for Erik’s important tennis matches and much more of the kind.
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Begins Tuesday, 10 p.m., NBC
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There were reasons, other than the character of the Menendez brothers themselves, for the enduring notoriety of this case, and we’re introduced to one of the major ones early in the series (just two episodes of which NBC released for review). She’s
), attorney for
shown casually informing her husband—a perfect Edie Falco moment—that the boys did it.
It would be attorney Abramson who argued in court that the boys had murdered their parents as a result of their tormented lives—moreover, that they had suffered sexual abuse by their father. A claim that caused outrage in the sane quarters of society, but one effective enough to cause deadlocked juries in the first trial. The lawyer’s decision to make the charge told everything about the bottomless potential—at the time and still today—in any claim of child sex abuse, however lacking in credibility, however cynically deployed.
It turned out nonetheless, in this case, to be one that jurors in the second trial managed to resist.