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The story of brothers who coolly watched an NBA game after murdering their parents

Erik-Lyle-Menendez

After the slayings of Jose and Kitty Menendez in August 1989, their sons Lyle and Erik Menendez reported to police that their parents had just been brutally murdered. Jose was shot in the back of the head with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun while sitting on a sofa, watching TV. Kitty suffered a more gruesome fate. After hearing the noise, she ran to the living room, saw the armed men, and tried to run. She was shot in the leg then fell down. Using the same shotgun, the gunmen blasted Kitty in the arm, chest, and face — she was almost unrecognizable. 

From killing spree to spending spree

The following months after the loss of their parents, the brothers went on a grand spending spree. Reports reveal that they spent $700,000 on a Rolex, a Porche Carera, a Jeep Wrangler, two townhouses, restaurants, personal tennis coach, exotic trips abroad, and a whole slew of other acquisitions.

A crime buff named Stephen Zerance was deep into his research of the Menendez brothers' activities from that fateful night in August 1989 to their arrest in March 1990. Amid all their high-end purchases, what piqued Zerance's interest were the two courtside tickets for a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. Though he was not an NBA fan, he knew exactly how to find proof that the two indeed coolly watched an NBA game after killing their father and mother.

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"Then we noticed they bought courtside tickets to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden," Zerance said. "When Getty Images didn’t have anything, it was like a light bulb. There are so many junk cards on eBay." 

Zerance searched for collectible NBA cards dated 1989 to 1990 worth 10 cents each. Not long after, he found what he was looking for: Lyle and Erik Menendez sitting courtside, their beady eyes staring at Mark Jackson as he's making an entry pass, perhaps to Patrick Ewing in the post.

The actual date of the game is not specified. But the timeline fits. The '89/'90 NBA regular season ran from November 3, 1989, to April 22, 1990. Jose and Kitty Menendez were murdered in August 1989, and their sons were arrested in March 1990. 

Menendez brothers' trial

Their 1993 trial became a national sensation. Televised on Court TV, the brothers claimed they were emotionally abused by their father and that their crime was an act of self-defense. They were victims of a violent home, compounded by their father's absurdly high expectations of them. Reports reveal that the patriarch wanted his sons to become tennis stars and business magnates like himself. 

The first trial, which was under the careful watch of the public eye, resulted in a mistrial. Two juries could not decide whether the Menendez brothers were guilty of murder or acted in self-defense. The judge then requested a second trial in 1995. This time, no cameras were allowed into the courthouse. Finally, the jury came to a firm decision. Lyle and Erik Menendez were convicted of first-degree murder in 1996 and sentenced to life without parole. 

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