Jurors Say Menendez Brothers Served Long Enough

The Menendez brothers were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on July 2, 1996. Over 20 years after the trial, the ninth juror, Hazel Thornton, believes the brothers have served long enough.

"My blood went cold because I had never seen a killer before," said Thornton after seeing the brothers for the first time in court. "That was my first jury experience."

The cold that she felt 21 years ago has warmed up in present day, along with alternate juror Betty Burke Oldfield. Oldfield originally believed the Menendez brothers were "rich spoiled kids that killed their parents."

"There is no way I would think that today," she admitted.

In their first trial in 1993, Erik and Lyle Menendez were tried together, but each brother had his own separate jury. There was gavel-to-gavel TV coverage of the bloody crime scene and graphic accounts of alleged molestation. But after five months of testimony some jurors did not believe the allegations.

Oldfield said the most "compelling testimony" was Lyle himself.

He shared how he was afraid of his father Jose Menendez, who he alleges said to keep the molesting a secret.

"I think the men just have too hard a time considering the fact that grown teenage boys could be abused and not just leave," Thornton said.

In the end the verdict was split. The women voted for manslaughter and the men for murder. The men accused the women of being too soft on the brothers, which Thornton called it a major misconception during the trial.

"It was a strong group of women. We all made up our minds for different reasons and we all had very logical reasons behind it," Thornton said.

Oldfield believed the outcome would have been different if the brothers were sisters, saying, "girls would have been believed."

Oldfield and Thornton maintain - the brothers should have been held accountable for the murders of their parents, but not sentenced to life without a chance of parole.

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