Transcript for Menendez Brothers Go on Trial For Killing Their Parents: Part 7
The Menendez brothers' trial was really the first big trial I covered. And it was a spectacle. It's like the crowds in the Roman coliseum, you know? Blood. They smell blood. When I first saw Erik Menendez walk into the courtroom my blood went cold, because I had never seen someone who had murdered his parents before. And it really was the Menendez case. And it was complex. And they said they did it because they'd been sexually abused. So, the question -- the question in the trial, if you believe that they were sexually abused, does that lessen their responsibility for murder? It will be your job to decide what kind of killing this is. That depends on what you come to believe was the reason for the act. The only question in this case, is why did these killings occur? There is no issue as to who killed Jose and Mary Louise Menendez. Why they were killed is what the focus of all of our evidence will be on. I didn't buy it at the start at all. I thought it was a total artificial construct, a gambit by a desperate defense to do something to save these guys from the -- from the death penalty. It will become apparent that this murder was unjustified and wholly pre-meditated. And that it was accomplished through a conspiracy into which Lyle Menendez entered with his brother, and that but for a few mistakes they made, this was almost the perfect murder. I knew that we could prove that the Menendez brothers killed their parents. But I also started thinking about, okay, let's say I'm a sleazy defense lawyer and I'm going to make up a defense, what defense would I make up? And I said, I think they're going to fabricate a sexual abuse defense, because I can't think of any other reason why we're going to trial. And guess what? They did. Erik Menendez was the abused son of wealthy parents. Leslie Abramson was one of the most unpleasant people I've ever had to cover, and yet, I admired her, because she was ferocious for her client. Not her clients -- it was Erik who was her client. He killed his parents because he could no longer endure their abuse and had to stop it. We never argued that child abuse is an excuse for murder. What we argued is child abuse creates a terrible fear. This is not a child abuse trial. This is a murder trial. I pretty much knew the trial was going to be a nightmare. Her reputation in the legal community was that she was a fighter who would go to the mat for her clients. But in the prosecutor's office, everyone told me, watch out for her. She will lie, cheat, and steal to win. The origin of this killing was a lifetime of abuse at the hands of those same parents. I think the strongest piece of evidence that we had, and certainly the most compelling for a prosecutor, were the crime scene photos and the way that they killed their parents. This is her before, and this is her after. And the problem for the defendants in this case is, they can't explain adequately killing mom. They just can't do it. And I'd like you to look at those photographs and ask yourself -- I had all the facts on my side. I could prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that they killed their parents in a pre-meditated fashion. Well, this is what prosecutors always do. They say, oh, I have the evidence right here. Here are the photos. The brothers admitted it. The prosecutors did a great job of portraying these -- these two brothers who were clearly plotting a pre-meditated murder, and taking apart their story piece by piece. I also noticed that there was a large portion of the back of his head was missing. It ejects the round of ammunition. And did you ask them why they killed their mother? They felt that they were putting the mother out of her misery. It ripped apart their stories and made them -- made them seem like petty liars covering up an appalling homicide. You came home and saw who shot? My mom and dad. You were crying, correct? Right. And at the same time, you were lying while you were crying, is that correct? Right. All right, so, you knew when you called the police that you were going to lie to them, correct? Right. And then you continued to lie about your involvement in the case, correct? Right. I think there was a near universal sense that this was going to be a sham defense, and that it was going to be a joke. And then they got on the witness stands. What did you think was going to happen? I thought they were going ahead with their plan to kill us. I was just sitting on the couch with my hands in my head saying, "We're going to die. We're going to die. I can't believe this." Their story was that they were afraid of their parents -- afraid that their parents were going to kill them. I meerngs you're familiar with kids saying, "Oh, my father's going to kill me, oh, my parents are going to kill me." Is that what you're talking about? No, no. Dad was going to kill us. I could not conceive of these strapping young men being in such terror, they had to kill their parents out of fear, so, I didn't buy it. But they definitely needed that piece in order to get the self-defense claim. We fired lots, you know, many times. And there were just glass and -- you could hear things breaking and you could hear the ringing noises from the booms and -- it was the smoke from the guns. We learned that they went after kitty in the most horrible way. That they reloaded and they came back to finish her off, and that they still shot her. And I -- and Joe was shot so much so that he, I learned, he was decapitated. Now after you entered the den -- I was just firing as I went into the room, I just started firing. In what direction? In front of me. What was in front of you? My parents. Erik testified she got up to run, and there was blood on the bottom of her shoe, inside the tread of her keds. And I think of, I think of her and I think of -- she got up and ran because her kids came in with shotguns and started shooting. I cannot imagine. I mean, I just can't imagine anything like that. It's just so horrific. Did you fire at the second figure? Did you fire at the first figure? Do you know if you fired at both, off to the side? I -- I don't know. I don't know. I just walked into the room, I just started firing, and I don't know. I didn't think about these things. I didn't think, "Where was this, where was that." I just started firing. I remember my dad coming forward, in my direction, so, he was standing. And I remember firing directly at him. I believe he fell back. Now, what was it that happened after the shooting ended? I heard a noise from my mom. And what was your reaction to that noise? I just ran out of the room. And what did you do after you reloaded? I ran around and shot my mom. Where did you shoot her? I just reached over and I shot her close. I thought that when Lyle described the killing of his mother, that a Normal jury would find it reprehensible and convict him. He -- you know, we loved our mother. Oh yeah? Really? You loved your mother? You blew her up. The prosecution was completely focused on the idea that Erik and Lyle Menendez were greedy rich kids that had killed their parents, because they were in a hurry to inherit their money. Why did you need to buy a Rolex watch four days after your parents were killed? I didn't need to. You wanted to. Well, what happened that day is that I was -- my uncles had talked to my brother and I and I think it was mainly my brother needed to get suits for the memorial service in L.A. That was coming up, and also for the one that they were planning around in New Jersey. So, you just thought a $9,000, 18-karat gold Rolex would go nicely with your funeral suit, is that right? And I thought that that was a very powerful part of the prosecution's case. It persuaded me, I mean, I didn't think they were in fear for their lives. I didn't. I thought they were trying to get away with murder. Why they were murdering is what the question was. Mr. Menendez, you've heard the testimony of your brother that you and he killed your parents on August 20th, 1989. Did you not? Yes, we did. Trials are storytelling competitions. What do you believe was the originating cause of you and your brother ultimately winding up shooting your parents? So, whoever tells the better story in a trial, that's anchored in the facts as they come out, that's who is going to persuade the jury -- Me telling -- You telling what? Me telg telling Lyle that -- You telling Lyle what? And to do that, you don't just say, "This happened, this happened, this happened." You said, "Here's this person, this is what their experience was, this is what they did and this is why." Your honor, can I ask a leading question? If you don't ask. My dad -- Just wait one second. No, no, he was in the process of answering, so, there's no need to ask it. Can you answer the question? Yes. Okay. It was you telling Lyle what? That my dad had been molesting me. You could hear a pin drop in the courtroom. And that's when I thought -- oh, das
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.