Lyle Menendez claims he still has “sleepless nights” in prison.
The convicted murderer opened up in this week’s issue of PEOPLE about his life in prison and how distraught he feels over the 1989 murder of his parents that he committed with his brother, Erik Menendez.
“This tragedy will always be the most astounding and regrettable thing that has ever happened in my life,” he told the magazine from prison.
“You can’t escape the memories,” he added. “And I long ago stopped trying.”
The Menendez brothers’ murder trial gripped the nation in the early 1990s, as millions tuned in week after week.
The men testified that they were armed with 12-gauge shotguns when they burst into the living room of their family’s Beverly Hills home and shot both of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez as they watched television. During the trial, they testified that years of alleged sexual abuse by their father and the fact that their mother knew about the abuse and chose to ignore it.
Following the deaths of their parents, Erik and Lyle went on lavish shopping sprees which later lead the prosecution to claim that the sexual abuse allegations were an attempt to avoid the death penalty.
“This was all about money,” former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Pamela Bozanich told PEOPLE.
In 1996, three years after their first trial, the Menendez brothers were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Lyle was 28 and Erik was 26, respectively, at the time of the conviction.
Now 49, Lyle is still serving his sentence at the California’s Mule Creek State Prison. He claimed that both he and his brother have spent the last 27 years “searching for meaning beyond the tragedy.”
Both men have found their own purposes behind bars. Lyle reportedly served as the president of the inmate government for 15 years and runs a support group for other incarcerated victims of childhood sexual assault and violence. Erik reportedly works with terminally-ill inmates at a prison 500 miles away.
They have not been allowed to speak since 1996.
“I still carry the guilt,” he said. “It will always be part of you. But it doesn’t have to define you.”