Rosie O'Donnell Speaks Out in Support of the Menendez Brothers, Says She's Become 'Very Close' to Lyle

The siblings are each serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for killing their parents in 1989.

Rosie O'Donnell is getting candid about her relationship with the Menendez brothers. In a new video shared to TikTok over the weekend, O'Donnell said she believes both Lyle and Erik Menendez are "innocent" of the 1989 murders of their parents José and Mary Louise.

The siblings were put on trial for the 1989 murders of their parents, José and Mary Louise. During their first trial, which took place in 1993, both Erik and Lyle -- who were 18 and 21 at the time -- claimed they were sexually molested by their father and that their mother enabled his continued abuse. After the trial ended with two deadlocked juries, the second one limited the defense's testimony about claims of sexual abuse.

In the end, both brothers were convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder before being sentenced to life in prison without parole, a sentence they are both still serving.

In the clip, the former talk show host reveals that she received a letter from Lyle in 1996 that said, "I know you know," telling her followers that he was "right," and she did indeed know that the pair was "innocent."

"In 1996, Lyle sent me a letter. Basically said, 'I know you know, and I hope we could connect. And you know, he was right. I did know that they were innocent. I did know that those were boys who had been incested," O'Donnell claims. "Why I knew, and how I knew -- Lyle also knew. I didn't write him back because I felt afraid, and I wasn't ready to touch the subject, and you know, it was 1996."

O'Donnell says she has gotten close to the elder Menendez brother over the years and even spoke to him by phone from prison after watching the Peacock documentary, Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed and hearing former Menudo boy band member Roy Rosselló's claim that José Menendez sexually assaulted him when he was a teenager. 

"In '96, in the late '80s, people weren't ready to accept the fact that boys too get raped," the 61-year-old TV personality continues. "Sometimes by their fathers. And as a culture, we ridiculed them. Jokes about them on Saturday Night Live, jokes from Jay Leno every night, everyone thought this was a funny target. Two kids who had been molested since the age of preschool, fighting back and standing up, and people thought they just wanted the money. They had the money. They didn't need the money. Money was not what it was about."

After posting about the doc, O'Donnell says she got a call from Lyle's wife, Rebecca, who facilitated a call between the pair. 

"We have been talking and sharing and becoming very close," O'Donnell adds. "Both Lyle and Erik have amazing prison records, with what they've done with their time, and how they've spent their 30-plus years in jail. So, we believe them now because of Roy from Menudo? Do we believe now because of the letter Erik sent his cousin eight months before the murder? It's time. I believe them. They were horribly abused by their parents, they did the unthinkable, which had been done to them day after day after day, and they paid the price for that."

O'Donnell also took the time to urge her followers to help free the Menendez brothers, again adding, "It's time."

In another video, O'Donnell dove deeper into her connection with the case and explains that Lyle was able to identify her past traumas and abuse she incurred, a point of connection for the pair.

"The point it, he's a compassionate, understanding, sensitive and intuitive man, and I was very blown away that he was able to see me so clearly, in this beautifully written letter," she shares. "And I didn't write back to him. It wouldn't have changed their case at all, it would've done nothing. I mean, there were many people who watched that case that too had suffered sex abuse in their home as a child, and were traumatized by it -- the trial, and anyway, that's the truth of it. There was nothing I was holding, and no secret besides my own."

@rosie Replying to @Lynnlittlepinkhouses hope this makes it more clear #freethemenendezbrothers ♬ original sound - Rosie ODonnell

O'Donnell also touched on the topic during an appearance on the On The Recyard podcast last week, telling hosts Marci Marie and Toonche that her own difficult childhood has furthered her belief that the Menendez brothers should be relieved of their life sentences.

"I think what I'm hoping, and many people who lived through similar childhoods -- boys who are sexually abused -- and in 1990, we weren't ready to hear that as a culture," O'Donnell maintained. "I always said that, Lyle Menendez is the older brother and Erik, the younger brother -- if Erik, at 17 or 18, when he told that the father had been doing this to him for many years, if it had been a girl that his sister was being raped by the father, that would've been much easier for our culture in the '90s to understand why the older brother would've acted in the way that he did."

She continued, "And nobody is condoning the violence or the murder of their parents, but we definitely have extenuating circumstances, and they have been in prison for 30 years, and up till five years ago, they were in different prisons."

After being housed at separate prisons for over 20 years, Lyle and Erik, now 55 and 52, are now together at RJ Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego.

As for what she hopes for the pair, O'Donnell said she's all for a re-sentencing or a commutation of their sentences to help right what she's calling a "mistake."

O'Donnell's comments come just over a month after it was announced that the second season of Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan's Monster true-crime series will focus on the brothers.

According to Netflix, the streaming platform also "has exclusive access to Lyle and Erik Menendez for a forthcoming documentary feature."

For more on their story, check out the links below.