Mental Exam Ordered for Erik Menendez

Since he has made an issue of his mental state at the time he killed his wealthy parents, Erik Menendez must undergo a psychiatric examination by forensic psychiatrist Park Elliott Dietz, Superior Court Judge Stanley M. Weisberg ruled Thursday.

The ruling does not apply to Lyle Menendez.

The brothers are being retried in the 1989 shotgun slayings of their wealthy parents in Beverly Hills. Their first trial ended two years ago in deadlock when jurors couldn't decide between murder and manslaughter convictions.

Dietz of Newport Beach would be a key witness for the prosecution, in its more aggressive attack of the defense's case that fear drove the brothers to kill their parents.

He has established a national reputation for helping prosecutors prove defendants criminally responsible in homicide cases--including the trials of Milwaukee cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer and New York serial killer Joel Rifkin.

Weisberg said he will order the exam as soon as Erik Menendez, 25, steps down from the witness stand. Deputy Dist. Atty. David P. Conn had completed a fifth day of cross-examination when court recessed Thursday until Jan. 3.

The prosecution contends that the brothers shotgunned wealthy entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty, to death in August 1989 to get their hands on the family's millions. But defense attorneys contend that the parents abused their sons for years.

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