NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 4:14 PM
Before Lyle and Erik Menendez shot and killed their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion in 1989 – one of the brothers wrote a screenplay with a friend oddly similar to the grisly murders.
Erik’s friend, Craig Cignarelli, told ABC News that they wrote a screenplay called “Friends” based on a character named Hamilton Cromwell who killed his parents for inheritance money.
This was before the Menendez brothers shot and killed their parents — Jose a wealthy entertainment executive and his wife Kitty — on Aug. 20, 1989, with shotguns they purchased days before the murders.
Lyle was 21 and Erik was 18 at the time.
Their first trial in 1993 ended in a hung jury but the brothers were later convicted of first-degree murder in a second trial in 1996. They were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In one scene, Cignarelli related, the “sophisticated good looking” 18-year-old read about his inheritance in his father’s will, and Erik described Hamilton as “immensely psychotic and extremely anxious to obtain his inheritance.”
The Menendez brothers were found guilty of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez in 1989.(Kevork Djansezian/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Cignarelli said he and Erik wrote the killing scene that showed Hamilton walking into his parents' room and opening the door, “exposing the luxurious sight of Mr. and Mrs. Cromwell lying in bed,” with their faces “questioning horror as Hamilton closes the door behind them, gently saying, ‘Good evening, mother. Good evening, father.’ "
“I guess there’s three ways to do it: You’re either going to win the lottery, you’re going to work very, very hard for one year and from 18 to 19, you’re going to earn $100 million, or you’re going to have to find a way to inherit it,” Cignarelli told ABC News.
Another of Erik’s friends, photographer Philip Kearney, told ABC News that he couldn’t imagine Erik killing his parents and conspiring to cover it up.
“My impression was that their father had cut them off,” he said.
The Menendez brothers claimed the murders stemmed from years of physical, psychological abuse by the parents. Prosecutors said that the “cold-hearted” brothers’ intentions were only to collect their $14 million inheritance.
Lyle Menendez sits in Superior Court in 1996.(BOB HALVORSEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
After Cignarelli learned about the murders, he told authorities that Erik confessed to him about killing his parents, according to the network. He even cooperated by wearing a body wire to obtain a taped confession but was unsuccessful.
“I was hoping at the end of the story he would have said, you know, ‘I'm full of it,’ you know? ‘Just joking.’ … That never happened,” he said.
A judge did not allow the “Friends” screenplay to be presented as evidence. However, Cignarelli testified for the prosecution at both trials about Erik’s alleged confession.
Lyle, now 48, is currently serving his sentence Mule Creek State Prison and Erik, now 46, is at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in California.Send a Letter to the Editor
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