Psychologist for Murder Defendants Seeks Return of Tapes
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ A psychologist for two brothers charged in the shotgun slayings of their millionaire parents asked a judge Thursday to retrieve tape recordings that police seized from his office.
Attorney Brad Bunnon said the recordings and other records taken from psychologist Jerome Oziel’s office after police served search warrants March 8 ″were not turned over voluntarily″ and should not be admissible in a trial.
Los Angeles County Superior Judge James Albracht said he would consider the request at an April 4 hearing.
Neither the prosecution nor the defense has revealed what is contained in the recordings.
Attorneys for Joseph Lyle Menendez, 22, and his brother Erik, 19, have argued that the recordings are confidential doctor-patient records. The tapes were seized before police arrested Lyle Menendez on March 8.
Erik Menendez, a 19-year-old tennis pro, surrendered the following weekend after returning from playing a tennis tournament in Israel.
The brothers have been charged with two counts of homicide each in the slayings of Jose Menendez, 45, and Mary Louise ″Kitty″ Menendez, 44. They were to be arraigned Monday on two counts of murder each at Beverly Hills Municipal Court.
The couple were shot to death Aug. 20 in their $5 million Beverly Hills mansion. The sons reported finding the bodies upon returning from a night on the town.
The young men are heirs to the $14 million estate of Menendez, an executive of Live Entertainment Inc., a video distribution company.
Police have said two killers committed the crime, then picked up shell casings from the 12-gauge shotguns they used before fleeing.
Prosecutors have said the tapes constitute key evidence.
″The prosecution will go on in this case with or without the tapes,″ Deputy District Attorney Elliott Alhadeff said Thursday.
State law allows psychologists’ patient records to be used as evidence if there is a threat of continued violence. Alhadeff said earlier this month that Oziel was threatened.
Defense attorney Gerald Chaleff has said he was aware of no threat against Oziel or anyone else.