Younger Menendez Brother Surrenders : Crime: Pair could face arraignment today on charges of killing their parents. Relatives maintain the two are innocent, but police claim they have a solid case.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lyle Menendez--and, possibly, his younger brother, Erik--will be arraigned today in Beverly Hills Municipal Court in the shotgun murders of their parents, entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty.

Erik, 19, gave himself up at Los Angeles International Airport at 1:10 a.m. Sunday after arriving on a flight from the East Coast. He had notified police of his travel plans and was immediately taken into custody by four detectives, Beverly Hills Police Lt. Robert Curtis said.

After a brief meeting with his lawyer, Robert L. Shapiro, at the Beverly Hills police station, the suspect was taken to the downtown Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail, where he was booked on suspicion of murder and held without bond.

"It was a voluntary surrender," Shapiro told the Associated Press. "Immediately upon being made aware of the allegations against him, he made arrangements. It shows tremendous character and strength to immediately face these allegations."

His brother, Lyle, 22, was arrested Thursday as he left the family home on Elm Drive. He remains jailed without bond.

Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner scheduled a news conference for this morning to outline the charges against the brothers. The counts were expected to include homicide under "special circumstances," which would mean the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

Erik, who decided on a professional tennis career after his parents' deaths last summer, rather than start his freshman year at UCLA, had been playing in a tournament in Israel when he received word that his brother had been arrested.

The suspect made clear through relatives that he would voluntarily return and give himself up to police. His return to Los Angeles, according to police spokesman Curtis, was "relatively circuitous," but he did not elaborate.

En route to Los Angeles, Erik stopped on the East Coast to confer with family members before continuing to Los Angeles in the company of a relative, a family source said. Erik's mental state was understood to be good, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"He's confident," the source said, that the police would realize the gravity of their mistake and that "he will soon be set free."

The Menendez family has rallied behind the brothers and believes police made a mistake in arresting the two.

"This is going to be a very embarrassing situation for the authorities," the relative said.

Jose Menendez, 45, chief executive of Live Entertainment Inc. of Van Nuys, a video and music distributor, and his wife, Kitty, 44, were slain the evening of Aug. 20. The couple had been watching television in the first-floor library of their Elm Drive home when two gunmen suddenly entered through an unlocked door and opened fire with 12-gauge shotguns.

At first, detectives faced a plethora of leads--including the possibility that the couple had been the victims of an organized crime hit. But as their investigation progressed, they concentrated on the victims' sons.

After the arrest of Lyle, Beverly Hills Police Chief Marvin D. Iannone told a news conference that there could be several motives for the slayings. He noted, for example, that the brothers were the sole beneficiaries of their parents' $14-million estate in the event the parents died at the same time.

There were no witnesses to the slayings. According to investigative sources, a small--but important--amount of physical evidence has been obtained by police, including a 12-gauge shotgun shell found in one of Lyle's jackets; and some shotgun shell wadding found at the crime scene.

A large amount of circumstantial evidence is also in police hands, accumulated in the course of months of interviews with individuals who knew the brothers.

And just before the arrest of Lyle, detectives were able to seize some tapes made by a Beverly Hills psychologist whom the brothers had been seeing. The tapes, according to sources, are considered an important part of the evidence.

On Sunday, Curtis reiterated the position of his chief and the investigating detectives that a compelling murder case had been pieced together against Lyle and Erik.

"I believe we have a very strong case," the lieutenant said.

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Correction

Mary Louise (Kitty) Menendez was 47 when she died, not 44.

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