Tonight you will have another opportunity to play detective, lawyer, jury, and judge. That’s right, another series in the true crime genre is coming. Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers will premiere on NBC at 10PM EST. It is a dramatized version of the trial of Erik and Lyle Menendez, two brothers who killed their parents with shotguns on August 20, 1989. They weren’t convicted for murders until 1996.
If you’re wondering what took so long, the answer is simple: a lot of privilege. Jose Menendez, the father of Erik and Lyle, was a corporate executive who could afford to move his family to Calabassas a la the Kardashians. As such, the two defendants had access to great legal representation capable of prolonging their case. This same concoction of privilege is also what helped turn their case into national news.
Not only were the young men siblings and convicted of killing their parents, they were rich and contextually “hotter” than the average joe to stand trial. The result was a media frenzy that has lasted, as you can see over two decades. Prior to Law & Order True Crime, the Menendez brothers’ case has been explored in Lifetime movies, podcasts, and an unsurprisingly, an episode of Snapped. Dominick Dunne also wrote an in-depth piece about the murders and the killers for Vanity Fair.
If you’d like more background on Lyle and Erik before you meet their acted out counterparts, check out these five facts.