Judge Rules No Cameras in Menendez Brothers Second Trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Cameras in the courtroom won’t be an issue in Erik and Lyle Menendez’ second murder trial _ it won’t be televised.
Superior Court Judge Stanley M. Weisberg on Friday banned cameras and recording devices from the courtroom in the brothers’ trial, saying he feared coverage might taint the unsequestered jury.
Television made the Menendez brothers household names in their 1993 trial, during which they were accused of killing their wealthy parents to inherit the family fortune. But Weisberg made sure it wouldn’t continue in their second trial.
Weisberg noted many potential jurors indicated they had strong impressions of the case as a result of television coverage of the first trial.
And although the judge didn’t mention it specifically, at least one party that sought to cover the trial felt the recently completed O.J. Simpson trial played a role in the decision.
``I’ve got to believe it had something to do with it because we certainly seemed to be on track to have this trial televised,″ Sylvia Teague, president of the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. ``Just in the past couple of weeks the situation seemed to have changed dramatically.″
During the Simpson trial, some legal analysts said the lawyers and the judge were playing to the cameras, and Gov. Pete Wilson and other state leaders called for bans of such coverage.
The motion to ban cameras in the Menendez case came from Lyle Menendez’s attorney. Erik Menendez’s lawyer took no position on the matter.
Lyle, 27, and Erik, 24, are charged with the Aug. 20, 1989, shotgun slayings of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez. Prosecutors contend the brothers killed because they feared they would be cut off from the family fortune.
Defense attorneys maintained that the brothers had been victims of sexual and emotional abuse and killed their parents out of fear for their lives.
Separate juries for the brothers could not reach a verdict in their first trial. The second trial will have only one jury. Opening statements are set for Wednesday.