Nearing the end of a lengthy cross-examination, Erik Menendez conceded Wednesday that the only people who could corroborate the years of sexual abuse he suffered cannot come to court because they are dead.
Jose and Kitty Menendez, his parents, were the only ones who could rebut the allegations of abuse, Erik Menendez acknowledged under a prosecutor's questioning.
After eliciting that response at the end of a set of brief questions, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lester Kuriyama dropped the topic, leaving unsaid the obvious--that Erik and Lyle Menendez had shotgunned their parents to death.
Erik Menendez, 22, and Lyle Menendez, 25, are charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 20, 1989, killings. If convicted, the brothers could be sentenced to death.
Prosecutors contend that they killed out of hatred and greed. The brothers contend that they killed out of fear rooted in years of physical, mental and sexual abuse.
On Wednesday, Erik Menendez's fourth day under cross-examination, Kuriyama asked for the first time directly about the allegations of abuse.
"Mr. Menendez, you say you'd been molested for 12 years, correct? Is that your testimony?"
"Yes, that's what happened," the younger Menendez brother replied.
"All the way up till when you were 19 years old?"
"Up until my father died."
"Are there any witnesses to this molestation?"
"Was anyone in the room?" Menendez asked.
"Yes," Kuriyama said.
"No," Menendez replied.
"In fact, the only person who could deny or contest your claims is your father, right?"
"My mother and my father."
"And both of them are dead, right?"
"Yes," Menendez said.
At that, Kuriyama asked no more, much as his co-prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Pamela Bozanich, had done in questioning Lyle Menendez two weeks ago.
Kuriyama said after court that he expects to wrap up his cross-examination today. Wednesday's court session ended early because both prosecutors became ill.
Before going home, Kuriyama spent much of the day trying to tie up loose ends, but he also went over ground he had already covered, with testimony becoming repetitive.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Stanley M. Weisberg upheld numerous defense objections that Kuriyama was asking questions that already had been answered, then told the prosecutor: "Let's see if we can speed it up a bit."
Kuriyama, slow and thorough, persisted in asking Erik Menendez one more time about his Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, 1989, sessions with Beverly Hills psychologist L. Jerome Oziel, a key prosecution witness.
Confirming much of what Oziel testified to earlier, Menendez admitted that he told the therapist about the slayings in elaborate detail.
He said he confided to Oziel that the brothers bought shotguns in San Diego, that they shot at their parents after bursting into the TV room of the family's Beverly Hills mansion, even that Lyle Menendez reloaded and fired the last shot at Kitty Menendez--all points now not in dispute at the trial.
But Erik Menendez insisted that he did not tell Oziel other details the therapist testified to--most of them key points potentially damaging to the defense case, and now in dispute.
He denied telling the therapist the brothers wanted to commit the "perfect murder," that they hatched a plot to kill after seeing a movie "on the BBC" and that they killed Kitty Menendez to eliminate her as a witness.
Prosecutors contend that "BBC" means the Billionaire Boys Club, a group of wealthy, young Los Angeles men who turned to murder in the mid-1980s, killing the father of one of them.
Erik Menendez admitted that he had a friend whose older brother was part of that group. But he said he did not see the made-for-TV miniseries, which aired three weeks before he and his brother killed their parents.
As for Kitty Menendez, "I doubt she would have been a witness against us at any point," he said. "I think she very well might have killed us and killed herself. Just poisoned everyone."
"You wanted to kill your mother, didn't you?" Kuriyama asked. "As badly as you wanted to kill your father?"
"I hadn't thought about the difference," Erik Menendez said. "I, I only thought that they were going to kill us and at the last moment, we killed them."