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Menendez brothers cite docuseries as evidence they should be freed


Erik and Lyle Menendez, the brothers who shot and killed their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion, are asking the courts to vacate their 1996 convictions, citing new evidence from a documentary series alleging that their father sexually assaulted a former underage member of Menudo.

Roy Rosselló, a former member of the internationally popular boy band in the 1980s, alleged he was drugged and raped when he was 13 or 14 years old by Jose Menendez, an RCA Records executive at the time.

The allegations were first raised in the Peacock docuseries “Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed,” a three-part series that looks into allegations that band members were abused by the group’s creator, Edgardo Díaz.

In the series, reported by journalists Nery Ynclan and Robert Rand, Rosselló alleges Díaz sexually abused him during his time with the band. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that they had opened an investigation into at least one of the alleged attacks.

Rosselló also claims Díaz took him to Menendez’s New Jersey home at the age of 13 or 14, where he was allegedly drugged and raped by the elder Menendez. Rosselló suggests the trip was to help seal a deal between the boy band and the record company.

In their petition filed Wednesday, attorneys for the Menendez brothers argue that the new allegations of abuse back the siblings’ contention that the murders were an act of self-defense after facing years of abuse by their parents and fear that their parents would kill them if they exposed the abuse.

The petition also cites a newly discovered letter written by Erik Menendez to his cousin, suggesting that the alleged sexual abuse continued as recently as months before the deadly shootings.

“The new evidence not only shows that Jose Menendez was very much a violent and brutal man who would sexually abuse children, but it strongly suggests that — in fact — he was still abusing Erik Menendez as late as 1988,” the filing reads.

Erik and Lyle Menendez alleged during their high-profile trials that they had been subject to sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands their parents.

A 2016 photo of Erik Menendez, left, and a 2018 photo of Lyle Menendez.

(California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Although their first trials detailed years of alleged sexual abuse and ended with two hung juries, the brothers were retried and convicted in 1996. In that trial, evidence of the alleged abuse was limited.

In the petition, attorneys for the brothers note that during the second trial, after evidence of alleged abuse was excluded, prosecutors argued in court that the allegations of abuse were “a total fabrication” and that there was “no corroboration of sexual abuse.”

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wednesday’s habeas corpus petition argues that new evidence suggests Jose Menendez abused other children and continued to abuse Erik Menendez.

Attorneys are asking the court to open an evidentiary hearing or to vacate the convictions and sentences.

Rosselló, who provided a declaration in the case, has also expanded his allegations of abuse. According to court records, Rosselló alleges that after he was raped in New Jersey, Jose Menendez also performed oral copulation on him before he appeared in a Menudo concert in New York.

After the concert, according to the declaration, Menendez then raped Rosselló in a hotel room.

In the docuseries, Rosselló is seen looking at an old picture with Díaz and Menendez standing alongside members of the band.

“That’s the pedophile,” he says, pointing to Menendez.

Attorneys also cite a letter written in 1988 by Erik Menendez to his cousin, Andy Cano, about Jose Menendez.

“I’ve been trying to avoid dad,” the letter, included in the petition, reads. “It’s still happening Andy but its worse for me now. I can’t explain it. He so overweight that I can’t stand to see him. I never know when its going to happen and its driving me crazy. Every night I stay up thinking he might come in.”

In the petition, attorneys argue that the new evidence requires a review of the case.

“Jurors making this determination did not know of Erik’s letter to his cousin Andy, and they did not know that Jose Menendez had previously raped a 14-year-old boy,” the document reads.

Both Erik and Lyle Menendez have previously filed unsuccessful appeals on their convictions.

The appellate court confirmed the brothers’ convictions in February 1998, and in May that same year petitions for review were also denied.

In 1999, the California Supreme Court also denied habeas corpus petitions filed by both Lyle and Erik Menendez.



This story originally appeared on LA Times

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