Menendez Media Fails

Albuquerque Journal, Saturday, Nov. 20, 1993


Menendez supporters all know how much the prosecution-biased media influenced public perception of the case during the four years preceding the actual first trial, during both trials, and in the decades since.

(You can Google famous examples such as the John Malkovich and Rob Schneider Saturday Night Live sketch and videos of Jay Leno making fun of them on The Tonight Show.)

Hence the still-pervasive, but false, greedy-rich-kids narrative.

The brothers are the butt of jokes (and are still imprisoned) to this day — thirty years later — as a result.

(View and download “Enough is Enough: The Menendez Tapestry” here.)

I could write a whole ‘nother book about it.

But all I want right now is to show you something that recently brought it all back for me.

What does my new bathroom — and a crumpled up section of newspaper — have to do with the Menendez brothers? Click To Tweet

What does my new bathroom have to do with the Menendez brothers?

I had my bathroom remodeled in September 2023. My mirror covers a hole in the wall that I never think about unless, like during construction, the mirror is removed from the wall.

This time I noticed, in the space between the walls, some crumpled up newspaper. I removed it to see how old it was and if there was anything of interest. The date was Saturday, November 20, 1993.

Hmmm…I was on jury duty at that time.

I saw nothing interesting (to me) in the newspaper, aside from the date, not even old ads worth keeping or photographing. Certainly nothing about the Menendez trial, which was of nation-wide interest, but nowhere as intensely as it was in Los Angeles County, where the trials were held. (I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2005.)

I got curious, and opened my book — Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror — to see what had happened the day before that might have been newsworthy on November 20th.


The prosecution’s rebuttal phase is, so far, just like an arcade game in which they line their witnesses up like ducks in a row and Abramson shoots them all down — blam, blam, blam — five in a row.

(This excerpt appears in my “30 years ago today” @menendezjuror TikTok campaign, which is running, with posts every few days, from June 2023 – January 2024. )

I proceeded to detail each witness’ testimony — we later referred to them as “testi-liars” — and how they were caught in their lies.

I remember thinking surely this would be a good day for the defense in terms of news.

(By now I had heard the bulk of the prosecution’s and the defense’s cases, and was leaning towards the defense. But I still had to wait until the trial was over to find out what was being reported.)

Was this the headline the next day, as it should have been?

Abramson Catches Five Prosecution Witnesses Lying

Nooo! Of course it wasn’t! Instead, it was this:

Pool Repairman Disputes Claim by Menendezes

(LA Times article by Alan Abrahamson)


Impossible to avoid ALL news of the trial

For someone who was admonished daily by the judge to avoid news of the trial, I mentioned the media rather a lot in my book because it was impossible to avoid ALL news of the trial.

Take this diary entry for example:


I can’t believe how many mistakes I’ve heard the media make in the little bits of news I’ve been unable to avoid. For example, Channel 7 had a caption indicating that “Leslie Bozanich” was the pictured speaker. Well, I’m sorry, but it’s either Leslie Abramson or Pamela Bozanich, and there’s a big difference! Also the radio said, “Lyle will take the stand today. . . . Erik finished his testimony Friday” (it was just the opposite), and at the very beginning of the trial I remember hearing or seeing the name of the wrong judge used because we were using another judge’s courtroom during jury selection. This has been a real lesson in trusting the media—if they can screw up little details like these, no wonder we are admonished to avoid the news.

No unbiased jurors left for second trial

As I wrote to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times after the trial (scroll to bottom of this link):

Doesn’t anyone in this town understand the concepts of “reasonable doubt” and “burden of proof”? I voted for voluntary manslaughter in the case of People vs. Erik Menendez because the prosecution failed to prove that Erik is guilty of first-degree murder, not because I am “so enamored with Abramson and her argument,” as Alan Abrahamson wrote (news analysis, Jan. 30).

If this is the kind of reporting your readers have been relying on these past six months, I doubt there is an unbiased potential juror left in the whole state.

Has anyone bothered to notice that no one on the Erik Menendez jury voted for involuntary manslaughter, much less acquittal? I don’t call up to 11 years in prison for each count of manslaughter “getting away with it.”

HAZEL THORNTON, Juror No. 9, Lake View Terrace



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1 Comment

  1. Julie Bestry on November 20, 2023 at 4:44 pm

    Your TikTok has been a fascinating eye-opener, as was everything you wrote here. I’ll admit, I’ve never been interested enough in trials (not the Menendez ones, not OJ Simpson’s, not even Johnny Depp and Amber Heard), though I do get filtered bits from the media (and, nowadays, social media). I pay more attention to the Trump trials, but I think a lifetime of watching courtroom shows has left me longing for Perry Mason and L.A. Law over reality. Perhaps because I worked in television for my first career, my inclination is to know that speed, rather than accuracy, is what gets valued most, and that people read headlines but rarely articles (and then, not past the first paragraph), and actual journalists almost never write those salacious or inaccurate headlines.

    Thanks for your keen insights!

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