Lawyer and Wife Slain; Ex-Wife Held : Crime: Ex-wife of the 1987 bar association president was under court order to stop harassing his new family.
Daniel T. Broderick III, a well-known medical malpractice lawyer and doctor who formerly served as president of the San Diego County Bar Assn., and his wife were found shot to death Sunday morning in the upstairs master bedroom of their Hillcrest home, police said.
The bodies were discovered shortly before 7:30 a.m. by friends who forced their way into the home in the 1000 block of Cypress Avenue.
Police identified a prime suspect in the shootings as the attorney’s 41-year-old ex-wife, Elizabeth Ann Broderick, whom local attorneys and friends of the victims said had mounted a steady harassment campaign against the couple that included ramming her car into their house, setting a fire in the home and taking personal items from inside their residence.
Police said Elizabeth Broderick, accompanied by her attorney, surrendered at 4:30 p.m. at downtown police headquarters, where she was being questioned late into the evening. She was booked Sunday night on suspicion of two counts of murder, police said.
“The motive appears to be related to (Daniel and Elizabeth) Broderick’s previous marital breakup,” said Lt. Gary Learn, a homicide investigator for the San Diego Police Department. “The investigation is continuing.”
The number of times the couple was shot was unclear Sunday night, Deputy Coroner Jack Larkie said, who added that autopsies were to be performed today.
While police said the victims were apparently slain Sunday morning, it was not immediately known whether there was a struggle inside the home. However, police spokesman Bill Robinson said that “preliminary indicators are that they were surprised by” their attacker.
Daniel Broderick, 44, was found lying on the floor. The body of 28-year-old Linda Broderick was lying across their bed. Both were fully clothed.
News of the couple’s death drew sharp, stunned responses from much of San Diego’s legal community, particularly among attorneys who had practiced alongside Broderick and were familiar with his leadership in 1987 in the County Bar Assn.
“It’s just devastating,” said Ned Huntington, who succeeded Broderick as president of the local bar. “I cried. I just cried.
“It just breaks me up. And I know my reaction is going to be the same as many, many lawyers around town. This is a good friend of a lot of people. You lose somebody like this in the legal community, you can’t ever replace him. And now we’ll miss him terribly.”
John Seitman, who preceded Broderick in the top position with the county bar, said: “This is really tragic. I’m really shocked by this.”
Several attorneys, along with police, said that Broderick--who received a law degree from Harvard and graduated from the Cornell University Medical College--had been hounded by his ex-wife since their divorce in 1986.
During the divorce, Daniel Broderick became engaged to Linda, whom he had met in 1983, and their recent marriage enraged his ex-wife, friends and fellow lawyers said.
In what they described as a “reverse ‘Fatal Attraction’ ” situation, the ex-wife continually bothered Broderick and his new bride, even to the point that a security guard was hired and court orders were obtained to protect them from her harassment.
Robinson and Dave Cohen, another police spokesmen, said authorities received a call shortly before 7:30 a.m. advising them to check the welfare of Daniel and Linda Broderick. As officers arrived, they said, they spotted some people coming out of the two-story, brick Colonial-style home.
The people leaving the house told police that they too had been called to check on the Brodericks.
“Those folks were forced to break through a screen window on the ground floor to get inside the residence, and they subsequently found the bodies,” Cohen said.
After the bodies were discovered, police issued an all-points bulletin for Elizabeth Broderick. Her 1987 Chevrolet was found later in the day in Pacific Beach, and the bulletin was canceled when she surrendered to police.
Huntington, who said he has known Daniel Broderick through both marriages, said the ex-wife often was inside the home, normally to visit her and Daniel Broderick’s four children.
He said that, while Daniel Broderick did not appreciate the harassment she brought to his new life with Linda, he also tried not to be too harsh on her because she was the mother of his four children, of whom he had custody.
“It had gone on so long that Daniel just adjusted to her craziness,” Huntington said.
He said, however, that Daniel Broderick did try to keep his ex-wife away. He said Broderick obtained a court order to protect him and his new wife from Elizabeth’s taunts. And he said Broderick hired a security guard to trail the ex-wife on his wedding day with Linda, to make sure that the new couple were not bothered when they exchanged vows in a private ceremony at their Hillcrest home.
Still, attorneys and friends of the victims said, the ex-wife was persistent.
They said she once rammed her car into Daniel Broderick’s living-room window. There were obscene phone calls, they said. Although she missed their wedding, she soon afterward found a job with the wedding photographer and, Huntington said, “she saw their wedding pictures before they even saw their wedding pictures.”
He also said that Elizabeth Broderick sometimes visited the home on Cypress Avenue and was suspected of taking personal items. “She stole their wedding (guest) list right before they got married,” he said.
C. Logan McKechnie, another local attorney, said that, when a fire broke out in Daniel Broderick’s home, his ex-wife, who was known to be “somewhat vindictive,” was suspected.
Yet friends and attorneys also said that, despite his personal problems, Daniel Broderick maintained an active and successful law career, blending his degrees in medicine and the law to become an expert in medical malpractice cases. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1973.
“He would not pursue a frivolous claim,” Seitman said. “If it was a good claim, he was an absolutely brilliant lawyer.”
Robert Grimes, another attorney and close friend of Daniel Broderick, described him as “an excellent, well-liked and much-admired person.”
“They (the victims) were a well-liked and friendly couple,” Grimes said. “In every way you could rate someone--skill, honesty, ethics--he had the highest reputation.”
Throughout his career, Broderick handled many high-profile legal cases in San Diego. He represented the late Monte Kobey, the San Diego Swap Meet czar, against two medical organizations after Kobey was afflicted with the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion.
He also successfully sued a man for sexually molesting his 10-year-old daughter in a case that ended in July in a jury award of $1.25 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
“He was an excellent lawyer,” Seitman said. “He was a terribly bright person.”