Erik Menendez Confessed to Killings, Transcript Indicates

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of two brothers accused in the 1989 killing of their parents in Beverly Hills confessed the crimes to a high school friend, according to Los Angeles County Grand Jury transcripts released Friday.

Craig Cignarelli said Erik Menendez told him a few days after the murders that his brother, Lyle Menendez, "looked at his father, shot his father who was sitting on the end of the couch. . . . He looked at Erik and said: 'Shoot mom.' "

The transcripts and some exhibits were released by Superior Court Judge Stanley M. Weisberg a day after the California Supreme Court upheld another judge's decision to allow partial release of the testimony.

Erik, 22, and Lyle Menendez, 24, were indicted in December on charges that they conspired to murder Jose Menendez, 45, an executive with LIVE Entertainment Inc. of Van Nuys, and Mary Louise (Kitty) Menendez, 47, on Aug. 20, 1989.

"He said they kept shooting until the guns were empty," Cignarelli testified.

Also in the transcripts, police officers described the late-night scene at the mansion after one of the brothers frantically reported the crime. The pair said they had just returned home from a movie and a Santa Monica food festival. One man, a social friend, testified that Lyle had arranged to meet with him the night of the killings but did not show up.

According to the transcripts, a document expert said he believed that Erik Menendez forged a signature to purchase two shotguns in San Diego before the killings. A computer consultant testified that Lyle Menendez had hired him to search for any references to a will in the father's computer and to erase what he found. Others testified that the brothers had spoken of a possible second will giving less money to them, but the expert said he found nothing.

Defense attorneys sought Friday to delay release of the material, despite the state Supreme Court decision, for fear of prejudicing potential jurors at the trial, scheduled to start in June.

But Weisberg said the effect of news reports would be "minimal."

A psychotherapist's testimony about alleged confessions by the brothers was not released under the court order.

Cignarelli testified that when he visited Erik Menendez a few days after the murders, "Erik looked at me and just kind of relaxed and said: 'Do you want to know what happened?' "

Erik said the brothers had returned home after the movie to pick up a fake identification so Erik could drink at a bar, Cignarelli recalled. Erik described finding Lyle outside with two shotguns, Cignarelli said. At that point, "Lyle said: 'Let's do it,' " Cignarelli said.

Following his brother's instructions, Cignarelli testified: "Erik stood up and shot his mom as she was standing up. . . . He said there was skin and blood all over the place."

Cignarelli said he did not decide to tell the police for "a few months. . . . I was very shaky about whether I was going to turn in my best friend."

Also released Friday were copies of a screenplay called "Friends," which Cignarelli helped Erik write several months before the slayings.

In Scene 1, Hamilton, the hero, learns that he would inherit $157 million should his father die. "Hamilton smiles sadistically," it says in the script.

In Scene 2, Hamilton enters his parents' suite and kills them with razor wire. "Their faces are of questioning horror," it says in the screenplay.

In a handwritten note Erik added to the scene, Hamilton "is intensely psychotic and extremely anxious to obtain his inheritance. A character worthy of Jekyll and Hyde," Cignarelli testified.

Cignarelli, fitted with a recording device at the request of police, met with Erik Menendez, purportedly to discuss changes in the script. In the course of that conversation, Erik said "he and his brother would inherit $90 million and they would split it."

In other sections of the transcript, the brothers' spending habits were described. A bodyguard hired briefly by Lyle soon after the killings said he saw that son buy a Porsche, three homes and use a limousine to go shopping.

"He never showed any remorse over the death of his parents," Richard Wenskoski testified. "He was just happy-go-lucky, carefree. . . . The more he spent, it seemed the happier he was."

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