Papers in Murder Case Ordered Released : Slayings: The documents allegedly link Menendez brothers to shotguns bought before their
Documents said to link two Beverly Hills brothers to shotguns purchased shortly before their parents were killed were ordered released by a Santa Monica judge Wednesday.
Superior Court Judge James Albracht ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms records--forms that must be filled out before guns can be bought--must be made public by next Tuesday, giving defense attorneys time to appeal his ruling.
Although the weapons used in the Aug. 20 slayings of entertainment executive Jose Menendez, 45, and his wife, Kitty, 44, have not been found, authorities believe two 12-gauge shotguns may have been bought by defendants Lyle and Erik Menendez from a Big 5 sporting goods store in San Diego County.
The victims were hit by numerous shotgun blasts fired at close range. Two types of shotgun ammunition--large pellet and birdshot--were used, according to autopsy reports.
Prosecutors have asked for new handwriting samples from the brothers in attempting to establish a connection. Under federal law, anyone wanting to purchase a weapon must fill out a form for the gun shop owner, providing name, address and other information. The purchaser must sign the form and produce picture identification.
Lyle Menendez, 22, and his brother, Erik, 19, are charged with having murdered their parents for financial gain and while lying in wait. If convicted, they could be sentenced to death. Both have pleaded innocent and remain jailed without bail.
Defense attorneys claim that Albracht is selectively releasing evidence, a charge the judge denied in granting a motion by three television networks to make the material public.
“This is unprecedented, in that the district attorney has taken the position that their investigative file is a public record,” defense attorney Gerald Chaleff said. “The Public Records Act specifically exempts investigative files kept by the district attorney.”
Chaleff suggested that the prosecution is attempting to try the case in the media.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Elliott Alhadeff said he does not consider the entire investigative file public, although “there are portions . . . we feel are appropriate to be released.”
This is the third time Albracht has ordered the release of previously sealed evidence.
A hearing on an appeal of his earlier order releasing a videotape of the search of the brothers’ psychologist’s office is set for today.
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Mary Louise (Kitty) Menendez was 47 when she died, not 44.
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