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Court Told About a Joking Lyle Menendez : Trial: Assistant to the brothers’ slain father describes the defendant’s ‘bizarre’ conversation after a memorial service. She says he talked about tennis tickets and wearing his father’s shoes.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lyle Menendez seemed cool and unaffected after a memorial service for his parents, making jokes and inquiring about tickets to a tennis tournament, his father’s former secretary testified Monday.

Marlene (Marzi) Eisenberg, Jose Menendez’s longtime assistant, said she wound up sitting next to Lyle Menendez in a limousine after the service. He crossed his legs, she said, and asked: “Hey, Marzi, who said I couldn’t fill my father’s shoes?”

“Make your own tracks in life,” Eisenberg said she told the older of the Menendez brothers, now on trial for first-degree murder in the Aug. 20, 1989, shotgun slayings of their parents. “Don’t try to fill his shoes.”

She said Lyle Menendez flexed a tassle-adorned loafer and replied: “You don’t understand. These are my father’s shoes.”

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Then, she said, he turned to a cousin and asked how he could get tickets to the U.S. Open tennis tournament the next week in New York.

It was a “fairly bizarre conversation,” Eisenberg said.

Lyle Menendez, 25, and Erik Menendez, 23, both testified that they were despondent after killing Jose Menendez, 45, a wealthy entertainment executive, and Kitty Menendez, 47. Eisenberg, who worked for Jose Menendez for about eight years, was called as a prosecution witness to rebut that testimony.

Eisenberg testified that she could not help noticing the watch Lyle Menendez wore to the memorial service, held in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, 1989. “God, it was lovely,” she said, though she could not recall the make. Other witnesses have said that Lyle Menendez bought three Rolex watches and money clips for $15,039 the day before the service.

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The brothers admit they shot their parents in the TV room of the family’s Beverly Hills mansion, but say the killings came in fear and self-defense after years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

Prosecutors contend that Lyle and Erik Menendez killed out of hatred and greed--and Monday, for the first time in the 19-week trial, they introduced the notion that the brothers took quick showers afterward to clean off spattered blood.

A day or two after the killings, Eisenberg said in response to questions from Deputy Dist. Atty. Pamela Bozanich, Lyle Menendez told her: “I didn’t hear anything. I was in the shower,” when his parents were killed.

Prosecutors contend that Lyle Menendez was, in fact, in the shower, but immediately after the slayings.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Michael Burt challenged the shower theory, suggesting that prosecutors were stretching Eisenberg’s testimony.

“Is it your recollection that (Lyle Menendez) was indicating to you that he was in the shower during the killings themselves?” Burt asked.

“Yes,” Eisenberg replied.

“As opposed to being in the shower afterward?”

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“Yes.”

“You’re clear on that?”

“I’m clear he told me he wasn’t aware of what happened, he didn’t hear anything.”

Eisenberg’s testimony signals the approaching end of the prosecution’s rebuttal case. Bozanich said prosecutors hope to rest today.

Defense lawyers have said they have about a week’s worth of follow-up testimony.

The trial began July 20. Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Stanley M. Weisberg told jurors last week that the trial may last into 1994 if either brother is convicted of first-degree murder, because that would lead to testimony to decide between the death penalty and life in prison without parole.

Separate juries are hearing the case, one for each brother.


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