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VERBAL SPARRING STARTS IN RETRIAL OF MENENDEZES

SHARE VERBAL SPARRING STARTS IN RETRIAL OF MENENDEZES

Lyle and Erik Menendez murdered their parents "in a storm of gunfire," turning their home's TV room into a scene of carnage, a prosecutor told jurors as the brothers' retrial began.

"Large pieces of their mother's body were blown away and they kept firing," Deputy District Attorney David Conn told the jury in his opening statement Wednesday.Erik's attorney, Leslie Abramson, repeating the defense used in the first trial, said the brothers had been the victims of sexual and emotional abuse and killed their parents out of fear for their lives.

"Manslaughter is all we're asking of you. We're not going to get up and say you must acquit because the gloves don't fit or anything like that," she said, referring to the closing argument of O.J. Simpson's defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran Jr.

Lyle's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Charles Gessler, was scheduled to begin his opening statement Thursday.

Two juries in the brothers' first trial were unable to reach verdicts last year and mistrials were declared. Only one jury was chosen to hear testimony in the retrial.

Unlike the first trial, TV cameras and recording devices have been banned. Still photography is allowed.

Conn opened his case by showing graphic pictures of victims Jose and Kitty Menendez, who were shot to death in their Beverly Hills mansion six years ago.

"We will show they were ambushed in a storm of gunfire," Conn said. "They shot their parents in the arms, legs, torso and heads."

Erik, 24, looked down at the table when the pictures were shown and Lyle, 27, looked straight ahead, apparently not glancing at them.

The prosecution contends the brothers killed because they feared they would be cut off from the family fortune.