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Menendez brothers reunite in prison for the first time in nearly 22 years

Brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez met face-to face-for the first time since 1996 this week after Lyle was transferred to Erik's prison.
/ Source: TODAY

The Menendez brothers are together again for the first time in nearly 22 years.

The brothers, who are both serving life in prison without parole for the murder of their parents in 1989, reunited on Wednesday night in the same unit of R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego.

They spoke to each other face to face for the first time since September 1996 after having been sent to different prisons 500 miles apart following their sentencing.

"The prison officials allowed them to meet together in a room for about an hour,'' Robert Rand, author of the upcoming book "The Menendez Murders," told Joe Fryer on TODAY Friday.

"And both brothers immediately became very emotional. They hugged each other. And they are so excited to be reunited after all these years."

Lyle, 50, had been serving his time at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, but was moved to the same facility as Erik, 47, in February when his security classification was lowered.

However, the two brothers were living in separate housing units until Wednesday, when Erik was moved into Lyle's unit and saw him for the first time in decades.

"I think it's an answer to prayer,'' the brothers' aunt, Marta Menendez Cano, told Fryer. "I've been praying for many, many years that this would happen."

Lyle rejoiced on his Facebook page, which is administered by relatives because he doesn't have internet access.

"Thank you to everyone for the amazing outpouring of joy and happiness over the reunion,'' a Facebook post on Thursday read. "It means so much!"

The brothers received renewed attention this past fall when their case was the centerpiece of a "Law and Order: True Crime" series on NBC. Lyle told TODAY's Megyn Kelly the show was "painful to watch."

Prosecutors argued that the brothers murdered their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, at their family home in order to get at the family fortune. The brothers' attorneys countered that it was self-defense after a lifetime of abuse by their parents.

Lyle and Erik had previously only been able to communicate in prison via family members and writing letters because they weren't allowed to speak on the phone, Lyle told Kelly in September.

Both have gotten married in prison and also communicated through each other's wives, Rand said.

Lyle applied for a prison transfer six times until one was finally granted, Rand said.

They are not currently cellmates, but do reside in the same housing unit that features rehabilitative and educational programs.

"There really are no words to describe what occurred today,'' Lyle said on his Facebook page.

Follow TODAY's Joe Fryer on Twitter.