Parent-killing Menendez brothers reunited in California prison after 'cruel and heartless' separation

Erik and Lyle Menendez, the Beverly Hills brothers who were convicted of killing their parents in 1989, have been reunited in a Southern California prison, state corrections officials said Thursday.

Since February, Erik Menendez, 47, and Lyle Menendez, 50, have lived in separate housing units at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility near San Diego.

But this week, Erik was transferred into the same unit as his brother at the facility, which houses nearly 3,900 male inmates, corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.

“They can and do interact with each other, all the inmates in that facility,” she said, though she didn't know how the brothers reacted during their reunion.

Prior to February, Lyle Menendez was serving his sentence in the Mule Creek State Prison in Northern California. But he was moved to the Donovan facility after authorities lowered his security classification.

The brothers are serving life sentences for fatally shooting their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, nearly 30 years ago.

At the Donovan unit, inmates agree to participate in educational and other rehabilitation programs -- without fighting or creating disruptions.

Erik Menendez, left, and Lyle Menendez are serving life sentences after being convicted of killing their parents.

Erik Menendez, left, and Lyle Menendez are serving life sentences after being convicted of killing their parents. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Associated Press)

The brothers had asked two decades ago, after they were sentenced, to be sent to the same prison. Prison officials said then that they often balked at putting partners in crime together, and the Beverly Hills detective who investigated the slayings argued that the brothers might conspire to escape if they were together.

Leslie Abramson, Erik Menendez's attorney, at the time called housing the brothers separately "exceedingly cruel and heartless.”

Lyle, who was then 21, and Erik, then 18, admitted they fatally shot-gunned their entertainment executive father and their mother, but said they feared their parents were about to kill them to prevent the disclosure of the father's long-term sexual molestation of Erik.

Prosecutors contended there was no evidence of any molestation. They said the sons were after their parents' multimillion-dollar estate.

Jurors rejected a death sentence in favor of life without parole.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.