Brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez riveted the nation in 1996 when they were convicted of the 1989 murder of their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion.
The children of a wealthy movie studio executive with a track record for difficulty produced the public to believe that the latter are spoiled rich brats after mama and daddy’s money.
But the long and heart-wrenching testimonies of the brothers, as well as other family members, uncovered a past of extreme sexual abuse at the hand of their father, Jose Menendez.
After being given a double life sentence without parole, Erik and Lyle were separated in different prisons and haven’t watched one another since.
But last week, they laid eyes upon one another for the very first time in over 20 years.
Both brothers instantaneously burst into tears upon fulfill at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. The last hour they had watched one another was September 10, 1996, the working day of their conviction.
Their aunt, Marta Cano, recently opened up to ABC News about the new religion that her godson Erik has found in prison, that was absent in his distressed home-life growing up.
Marta, a strong Christian girl herself, discovered that Erik had been teaching a fellow group of inmates about Jesus when he asked her to send him some reading material on the subject.
“So, he was really making sure that the prisoners knew that there is a God that loves us, ” she told. “That was marvelous to me because he never got that at home.”
Marta has a huge heart for her nephews who she calls “sweet” and “beautiful” boys that resulted in killing their parents as a “defense mechanism” rather than maliciously 😛 TAGEND
“It was not[ an] in-cold-blood kind of thing. It was fear — total fear.”
“How would I seem if someone had abused me all my life, and all of a sudden he’s angry in front of me and he’s coming to me? ” she told ABC. “It’s a defense mechanism we all have. You never knew what you would do.”
Regardless, Marta believes the fact that Erik and Lyle were forced to suffer apart from one another allowed them to “mature separately.”
“Sometimes we cling on to somebody else, and we never ripen, ” she added.
Marta still prays for the day that her nephews will be set free, in spite of the current life sentences they are serving.
“You have to leave some things in God’s hands, ” she told. “And God takes care of them.”
See more from the Menendez brothers’ story and their emotional reunion in the ABC News exclusive below: