August 20th, 1989
Menendez Murders: On the evening of August 20, 1989, José and Kitty were sitting on a couch in the den of their house in Beverly Hills when Lyle and Erik entered the den carrying shotguns. José was shot in the back of the head with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Kitty was awakened by the shots and got up from the couch. She was shot in the leg while running toward the hallway, causing her to slip on her own blood and fall, and was then shot several times in the arm, chest, and face, leaving her unrecognizable. Both José and Kitty were also shot in the kneecaps in an attempt to make the murders appear connected to organized crime. When they returned home later that night, Lyle called 9-1-1 and shouted "Someone killed my parents!" When officers from the Beverly Hills police department arrived, the brothers told them that, during the murders, they went to a movie theater to see Batman, and then attended the annual "Taste of L.A." festival at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The police did not order the brothers to undergo gunshot residue tests to find out whether they had recently used a firearm, since, at that time, a lack of evidence prevented them from looking into the brothers more thoroughly. In the months after the murders, the brothers began to spend money lavishly, adding to suspicions that they were somehow involved in the murders of their parents. Lyle bought a Rolex watch, a Porsche Carrera, and Chuck's Spring Street Cafe, a Buffalo wing restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey, while Erik hired a full-time tennis coach and competed in a series of tournaments in Israel. They eventually left the family mansion unoccupied, as they decided to live in adjoining condos in nearby Marina del Rey. They also drove around Los Angeles in their deceased mother's Mercedes-Benz SL convertible, dined expensively, and went on overseas trips to the Caribbean and London. It is believed that they spent somewhere around $700,000 during the period between the murders and their arrests. During the early stages of the investigation, the police tried to narrow their search to people who would have had motives to kill José and Kitty. They also investigated potential mob leads, but nothing came of them. As the investigation continued, the police believed that the brothers were most likely the perpetrators, since they had obvious financial motives, and were liberally spending money in the wake of the murders. In an attempt to get a confession from Erik, the police convinced Craig Cignarelli, one of Erik's close friends from high school and a tennis buddy, to wear a wire while having lunch with him at a local beachfront restaurant. When Craig asked Erik if he killed his parents, Erik replied with "no"; however, he eventually confessed to doing so to his psychologist, Jerome Oziel. After Lyle threatened him, Oziel told his mistress, Judalon Smyth, about the murders, and she told the police about the brothers' involvement. Lyle was arrested on March 8, 1990; Erik turned himself in three days later, after returning to Los Angeles from Israel. Both were held without bail, and separated from each other. In August 1990, Judge James Albrecht stated that tapes of the conversations between Erik and Oziel were admissible evidence, since Lyle had violated doctor–patient privilege by threatening Oziel. Albrechts's ruling was appealed, and the proceedings were then delayed for two years. The Supreme Court of California ruled in August 1992 that most of these tapes were admissible, excepting the tape in which Erik discussed the murders. After that decision, a Los Angeles County grand jury issued indictments in December 1992, charging the brothers with the murders of their parents.