Episode 9: Homicide at Home
In this week's episode of Blood & Wine, Brittany and Tyler share cases of parricidal murders with a special guest who knows best and is dying to hear all about them: The Murder of Jesus Marinero and The Menendez Murders.
You know Brittany loves her French wines!
A rich, exhilarating wine. Beautiful ruby red color.
Medium bodied and well structured.
The flavors are ripe red fruits with hints of tobacco, earth and a touch of oak.
Tyler's Jesus Marinero Notes:
Jesus Marinero (also known as Ismenia) had been through so much in her life and was a perfect example of a loving mother and the American dream.
She was one of nine children and the mother of seven, and family said that she longed for a better life for her family in the United States after leaving El Salvador in 1999. Only her son Roberto followed her.
She settled in Omaha in 2003 after hearing about jobs in the meatpacking plants, and over the years gave birth to two more sons, Josue and Angel. But in the last weeks of her life she struggled as her house was broken into and set on fire, and was living with a sister, Reina Rosa.
Towards the end of April 2015, She asked her friend Teresa Rivera-Avelar to look after her children if anything bad happened to her. Marinero had been living in constant fear over the past several months, Rivera-Avelar said. The friend declined to go into details, but said trouble for the Marinero family started early this year. Marinero’s home caught fire April 22. She was convinced that someone set it on fire. Fire investigators have been investigating the incident as an arson but have not identified suspects. The fire engulfed the basement and first floor, causing $45,000 in damage, said Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Timothy McCaw. Leading up to the fire, Marinero had seen men in trucks following closely behind her around town, Rivera-Avelar said. Each time she turned, the following truck did, too. Since January, Marinero had reported to police that someone burglarized her home on five occasions. In one case, the burglar spray-painted on the walls. Marinero and her family moved in with her sister after her house burned.
Gus Peterson, the sister’s next-door neighbor, said the house had been broken into several times after the Marineros moved in; a security system recently had been installed.
Relatives encouraged her to move out of state, but fearing that Roberto might be involved in trouble, “she said no, she couldn’t leave Roberto here,” Reina told PEOPLE. “She thought that in some ways she would protect him.”
On May 5th 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska, 25 year old Roberto Martinez-Marinero was at his apartment that he shared with his girlfriend with his mother, Ismenia, broke into an argument about money as they had many times in the week prior. This time was different though when Roberto stabbed Ismenia using a six-inch blade and beat her with an aluminum baseball bat.
At this time, Roberto’s two brothers 4 year old Josue and 11 month old Angel went missing.
The following day on May 6th A neighbor who lives in the area near Lauritzen Gardens and his wife were taking a walk when they discovered a woman's body about 7 p.m. Police were called and it was discovered to be Ismenia.
That day 11-month-old son, Angel Ramirez-Marinero, was found bruised but safe in a trash container at a nearby apartment complex by a neighbor who had heard rustling and crying while on a walk.
Josue had still not been found.
A Nebraska boat crew found a little boy's lifeless body along the banks of a river on Monday, May 11, 2015 - five days after his little brother was left alive in a dumpster. Josue Ramirez-Marinero, 5, was tangled in tree limbs at the edge of the Elkhorn River when a Waterloo fire rescue team spotted him.
Four-year-old Josue Ramirez-Marinero was alive and asleep when his 25-year-old half brother ripped the boy from his car seat and tossed him over a bridge rail into the Elkhorn River on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, shortly after murdering his mother and kidnapping his younger brother.
Gabriela Guevara, 24, (Robertos girlfriend) helped Martinez-Marinero lift the body of Jesus Ismenia Marinero, 45, into a car, pushing her feet as he pulled her arms, according to video captured by a neighbor’s security camera.
Guevara – who has denied any involvement – then assisted Martinez-Marinero in dumping Ismenia, as she was known by friends and family, and who may have been alive when her son and his girlfriend disposed of her in a ditch.
Roberto walked into the police department a few days after the killing (while Josue was still missing) and confessed to his crimes.
In February of 2016, he pleaded guilty and received two consecutive life sentences for the murders of his mother and 4-year-old half-brother. He also had faced a kidnap charge for allegedly throwing his 11-month-old half-brother in a dumpster. That charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the May deaths in Omaha of his mother and his brother.
Martinez-Marinero also pleaded guilty to one count of using a weapon to commit a felony.
In exchange for the life sentences, prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty.
Brittany's Menendez Brothers Notes:
Born into lives of wealth and privilege as the sons and only children of Hollywood executive José Menendez, 45, and his wife, Kitty, 47, the Menendez brothers, Erik and Lyle claimed they had returned home from the movies on August 20th, 1989 to find that their mom and dad assassinated in their Beverly Hills home.
Lyle screamed across the phone line to a 911 operator, “Someone killed my parents!” The "someone" he blamed remained to be identified at the time, but the call – and the claim made during the course of it – catalyzed the infamy of Menendez, then 21, and his 18-year-old brother Erik. It took almost seven years, but after facts were uncovered and their admission of guilt was ultimately confirmed, they would be solidified as two of America's most notorious parricidal murderers.
The brothers initially blamed the mob, but the gruesome overkill pointed more to a crime fueled by emotion than the handiwork of the Mafia. Investigators counted over a dozen gunshot wounds between the victims, including one to the back of Mr. Menendez's head, which essentially decapitated him, and another against Mrs. Menendez's left cheek, which literally blasted away the eye and nose of the former beauty queen.
Lyle and Erik Menendez performed grief so convincingly that first responders thought it unnecessary to test their hands and clothing for gunshot residue, instead allowing the young men to emote and console each other in what seemed like genuine shows of despair. Neighbors even recalled that Erik, the younger of the two brothers, was curled up in fetal position on the front lawn of the family home. Early reports described the crime scene inside of it as a "gangland-style killing." (Both victims had been shot in the kneecaps for an added touch of credibility.) Though they'd been questioned the night of the murders, police didn't sit down with Lyle and Erik Menendez for a formal interview until two months after the murders.
Born in Cuba, the senior Menendez emigrated to the U.S. when he was just 16, married Kitty at 19 and worked his way up as a dishwasher at the ritzy 21 Club in Manhattan while he finished his accounting degree at Queens College. He rose through leadership positions in companies like RCA, where he helped to sign the Eurythmics and Duran Duran, before becoming executive vice president at independent film company Carolco Pictures. He then moved his family from the East Coast to the West, into a $5 million mansion once inhabited by Elton John. It was an American fairytale that Lyle, in particular, championed and admired – even as his father was alternately proud and controlling of his boys, and reportedly pressured them to mirror his success in school and tennis, their sport of choice.
But the brothers had a rebellious streak, and had recently been caught burglarizing neighbor's homes for fun. It enraged José Menendez, but still used his money and influence to shield them from any real consequences. He had, however, reportedly drawn up a new will, which parceled out significantly less of the couple's $14 million estate to his sons. Weeks after his parents' deaths, Lyle confided to a friend that he'd deleted the updated will from Mr. Menendez's computer – a highly suspicious act, which would later be used against the brothers in court.
After the Murders
Whether the murders were a retributive act for their mistreatment as children, a greedy plot to gain early access to their inheritance, or both, the Menendez brothers knew how to spend – and it even stood out in Beverly Hills. In the weeks after they disposed of their parents, they spent between $500,000 and $700,000 in a buying blitz that included, for Lyle, a $64,000 Porsche, a Rolex and a restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey, close to the university where he'd once been a student.
For Erik, who decided not to attend UCLA as his father had hoped, his influx of wealth afforded him travel for his burgeoning tennis career, a $50,000-a-year coach, a Jeep Wrangler and, according to Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne, a $40,000 investment in a rock concert at L.A.'s Palladium with a partner who ultimately stiffed him. Together, Erik and Lyle moved into swanky his-and-his condos in Marina Del Rey. It was hard not to notice the pair's comeuppance – police paid special attention, using the splurges to substantiate their existing skepticism about the brothers' innocence.
Erik, apparently wrestling with the emotional burden of his crime, confided first to Craig Cignarelli that he and his brother had killed his parents. Then, in late October 1989, he asked to meet with Beverly Hills psychologist L. Jerome Oziel, who he'd been seeing since the burglary incidents. There he again admitted his involvement in the murders. When Lyle found out his brother's indiscretion, he threatened to kill Oziel if he reported them to authorities, a bullyish insurance policy that ultimately worked against him.
Oziel's mistress, Judalon Smyth, listened in from the waiting room, recording joint confessions. Yet she sat on the tapes for nearly five months before she contacted police to tell them Menendez's confession had been recorded on tape. Finally, nearly seven months after José and Kitty had been killed, Beverly Hills police arrested Lyle Menendez. Erik turned himself in upon his return from a tennis event in Israel three days later. Though it took numerous hearings to convince a court that portions of the tapes were admissible, the California Supreme Court eventually ruled that the possibility of violence released the practitioner from doctor-client privilege, and the evidence eventually helped send the young men to prison.
Along with friend and tennis partner Craig Cignarelli, the younger Menendez stole away to a private cabin to churn out a 66-page screenplay called Friends, in which the protagonist kills five people, starting with his own parents. There was even a rumor that was another, even more vividly detailed manuscript – one that aligned even more closely with his ultimate crime – though its existence has never been confirmed.
Accusations about the victims' incendiary parenting and abusive behavior were explosive. In addition to claims by the defense that the Menendez brothers were"punched and belt-whipped," attorneys also asserted that José Menendez molested both sons starting when Lyle was seven and Erik was six. It was a story corroborated, at least in part, by family members under oath. The abuse continued – allegedly under Kitty's knowledge – for 12 years. Lyle accused her, too, of incestuous molestation that extended well into his teen years.
Yet none of the accusations were formally substantiated. According to deputy district attorney Pamela Bozanich, a prosecutor in the case, the Menendezes prepared for trial upwards of four hours a day for two years, more than enough time for their team of attorneys to craft a justifiable self-defense claim around the abuse. Whatever was going on inside the home on Elm Drive, Lyle and Erik's defense attorneys claimed it compounded the mental and emotional degradation the brothers, and said it explained instances of acting out, including Lyle bedwetting until the age of 14.
The pair took up residence in Los Angeles County Jail following their epic fall from grace while, for two years, attorneys volleyed arguments about the tapes' admissibility as evidence. In July 1993, when the pathway to prosecution had finally been cleared, the circus broke wide open: the Menendez trial was televised, one of the most watched media events of its era. Both Erik and Lyle had a separate juries and, at the conclusion of the proceedings in January 1994, both juries were hung, necessitating a retrial. The second trial, which began in August 1995, differed from the first in three key ways: the judge wouldn't allow cameras in the courtroom and the case was heard by just one jury. This one didn't buy the "abuse excuse" and brought back a guilty verdict.
In 1996, the brothers were spared the death penalty, and convicted of first-degree murder in their parents' deaths and were sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.
Update as of April 2018
The two brothers were sent to two separate prisons. And have not seen each other in over twenty years. In February 2018 Lyle Menendez was moved in February from Mule Creek State Prison in Northern California to San Diego's R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility, after his security classification was lowered. But the brothers lived in separate housing units and would not have seen each other, Thornton said. The prison houses nearly 3,900 male inmates.
However, in April 2018 Eric moved into the same housing unit as his brother. They both "burst into tears immediately" after the guard opened the door, Rand said. They can and do spend time with each other.