Andy Cano: How Did Erik Menendez’s Cousin Die?

Image Credit: Find a Grave

CBS’ ’48 Hours: The Menendez Brothers’ Fight for Freedom’ delves deep into the controversial and complicated case of Lyle and Erik Menendez, who were convicted and sentenced for the killing of their parents. The Menendez brothers claimed that their actions were the result of a history of sexual abuse by their father, Jose Menendez. One of the people who supported their claims was their cousin, Andy Cano.

Andy Cano Stood in Court For His Cousins

On July 14, 1973, Andres L. Cano was welcomed into the world by the Menendez-Cano family in the town of Livingston in Essex County, New Jersey. The beloved son of Marta Menendez Cano and Peter Cano lit up the house and the lives of his family members with his infectious energy and warm smile. Lovingly referred to as Andy, he was raised with the utmost love, care and support of his loved ones. While growing up, he shared a close-knit bond with his maternal cousins, especially Erik Menendez, who was three years his senior. Therefore, when he was asked to testify in the 1993 trial of Erik and Lyle Menendez for the 1989 murders of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, Andy readily agreed.

Image Credit: James/Find a Grave

On the stand, Andy passed some statements that shocked everyone. In his testimony, Andy claimed that in three to four candid conversations he had with Erik when they were young, the latter hinted at enduring sexual abuse at the hands of his father. In particular, he said that a then-13-year-old Erik told him that Jose performed “massages” on his “genitals,” allegedly adding that they were “beginning to hurt.” As per Andy’s testimony, Erik was confused about his and Jose’s situation and wondered if it happens in every “normal father-son relationship.” However, the prosecutors labeled his testimony bogus and insisted that he was not being truthful. However, Andy was quite determined to stand in support of his cousins and also took the stand in the 1996 trial, once again testifying against Jose and affirming the allegations made by Erik. However, the prosecutors countered his statements insisting “the abuse never happened.”

Andy Cano Died With Guilt Over Not Being Able To Do More For the Brothers

Andy Cano stood for his convicted brothers, Lyla and Erik Menendez, and testified for them but to no avail as his testimony was not enough to keep them out of prison for the murder of their parents, Jose Menendez and Kitty. Feeling helpless and kind of guilty for not handling things differently earlier, Andy dwelled and suffered. Furthermore, he thought that had he told everything about Jose’s alleged abusive behavior towards Lyle and Erik to his parents before it was too late, things would have turned out differently. This guilt led him into a cycle of recurring night terrors.

Image Credit: James/Find a Grave

To tackle the situation and combat the regular nightmares, Andy was prescribed sleeping pills. Unfortunately, in 2003, the 29-year-old unintentionally overdosed on the pills that fell to his tragic demise. Following his death, all his possessions were kept sealed in a room for several years. When his mother, Marta Menendez Cano, happened to go through his belongings after all those years, she came across the letter that Erik Menendez had written to Andy Cano back in December 1988, eight months before the shooting.

In the letter, Erik Menendez writes to Andy Cano, “I’ve been trying to avoid dad. It’s still happening Andy but it’s worse for me now. I can’t explain it. He so overweight that I can’t stand to see him. I never know. When it’s going to happen and it’s drivine but I’m afraid. You just don’t know dad like I do. He’s crazy! he’s warned me a hundred times about telling anyone, especially Lyle. Am I a serious whimpus? I don’t know I’ll make it through this. I can handle it, Andy. I need to stop thinking about it.”

The letter serves as a testament to the claims of abuse that the brothers suffered from their father’s hands. It also suggested that the abuse was not only limited to Lyla and Erik’s childhood but even continued into their adulthood. This new evidence, along with a few others, might be the push that the court needed to consider a retrial for the Menendez brothers. Even though Andy is not with us anymore, he still offers hope for his incarcerated cousins through the letter he preserved.

Read More: Jose and Kitty Menendez Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them?