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Lyle Menendez speaks out on his parents' 1989 murder: I regret it every day

Nearly 30 years after killing his parents, Lyle Menendez spoke with TODAY's Megyn Kelly about his motives, his parents' abuse and life behind bars.
/ Source: TODAY

Lyle and Erik Menendez murdered their parents nearly 30 years ago, but the case of the Beverly Hills brothers is getting renewed attention in a new true crime series examining the sensational trial.

Megyn Kelly spoke with Lyle Menendez in a phone interview from prison on TODAY Wednesday about what led up to the shotgun killings, his regrets, and the brothers' allegations that they were abused by their parents.

The events are dramatized in the new four-part NBC miniseries, "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers."

"I don't think that I want in any way, looking back, to be the judge and jury of my father's actions or my mother's,'' he said. "It's really, a regret every day, a regret every day, but at the same time, I can't escape what happened anymore than I can escape the memories of what happened to me."

Lyle, 49, is currently serving a life sentence at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, while Erik, 46, is serving his life sentence at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. The brothers remain in regular contact and have both since gotten married since being incarcerated.

On Aug. 20, 1989, Jose Menendez, 45, was shot in the back of the head and his wife, Kitty, 47, was shot 15 times in their Beverly Hills mansion. It was the brothers, who were 21 and 18 at the time, who turned the guns on their own parents.

The brothers initially tried to blame the attacks on a Mafia hit or a business deal gone wrong. But seven months into the investigation, they were arrested. Prosecutors said they killed their parents to get control of their $14 million estate, while the brothers claimed they were motivated by a lifetime of abuse.

Lyle claims the murders were not premeditated.

"Yeah, there was no plan,'' he said. "I mean, there was no alibi, no plan ... it would be a crazy plan to use a shotgun in the middle of Beverly Hills. The houses are literally 10 yards apart and the police station is a quarter mile away.

"There's no sane person who would have a plan like that."

He maintains that abuse from their father ultimately caused the brothers to snap.

"There really wasn't a discussion about killing my parents,'' he said. "I didn't know the details of what had happened between my brother and my father, and when I first heard about it, I had some of the same reaction that some people have — how could you not have resisted, why didn't you tell me, why didn't you run away, why didn't' you fight back against your father?

The 1993 trial involving the brothers became a spectacle broadcast live on Court TV featuring a pair of juries, one for each brother, that ultimately deadlocked. The brothers were tried again in 1995 with no cameras and a single jury, which convicted them of the murders.

"Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers" premiered on NBC on Tuesday night and runs through Oct. 17.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.