With the success of FX’s American Crime Story, NBC has turned to Dick Wolf to create a true crime anthology series of its own.
NBC announced that Wolf’s Law & Order empire will expand into the anthology drama business with Law & Order: True Crime. The scripted series is currently in development and will focus on famous real-life criminal cases, similar to the format of The People v O.J. Simpson, which just wrapped its first season on Tuesday night.
Deadline.com reports that the first season of Law & Order: True Crime will be called The Mendez Brother Murders. The eight-episode run will focus on Lyle and Erik Mendez, who were convicted of the shotgun murders of their wealthy parents and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 1996.
Jennifer Salke, the president of NBC Entertainment, states that the series has been in development for quite some time. “We’ve been talking with Dick about how to create an event series coming out of the Law & Order ripped-from-the-headlines brand. This case captured the public’s attention like nothing before it as it examined taboo issues such as patricide and matricide in gruesome detail, all against a backdrop of privilege and wealth,” she said. “We will re-create the cultural and societal surroundings of both the murders and trials when people were not only obsessed with the case but examining how and why these brothers committed these heinous crimes.”
The “obsession” Salke refers to was due to Court TV’s broadcast of the trial in 1993, creating a national sensation. Lyle and Erik were both 21 and 18, respectively, at the time the murders took place in 1989.
Law & Order: True Crime would be the first new scripted Law & Order series since Law & Order: LA, which was cancelled in 2011 after 1 season. Wolf already has 4 series currently airing on NBC (Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med) with a fourth Chicago series in development to air next fall, Chicago Law.
Here’s the description of the Mendez Murders from the Deadline article.
Home in their Beverly Hills mansion on the night of August 20, 1989, Jose Menendez, a movie executive, was shot in the head, and police found Kitty Menendez with bullet holes throughout her body. The crime scene was so gruesome that police initially suspected a mafia hit.
After spending lavishly for six months following the murders, the brothers were arrested. Erik Menendez had confessed to his psychologist, and the tapes of those conversations later were ruled admissible. Lyle Menendez was arrested after police believed he was attempting to flee the country.
Defense attorney Leslie Abramson represented the brothers through the three trials and claimed they had suffered a lifetime of abuse from their parents. Their father Jose was accused of sexual abuse as well as being unusually cruel, while Kitty was accused of being mentally unstable and a violent drug and alcohol abuser. Jurors ultimately rejected those claims. Following the conviction, jurors said they believed the brothers’ motive was to gain their parents’ immense wealth and fortune.
As of 2008, both were serving their life sentences in the California Department of Corrections.
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