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Witnesses Tell How Broderick Spoke of Killings : Courts: They say she told of her hate for the ex-husband she is accused of murdering, along with his new wife.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Betty Broderick, accused of murdering her ex-husband and his new wife, told a friend that the San Diego medical community should be grateful to her for killing her ex-husband, a prominent malpractice attorney, according to testimony Monday at the divorcee’s preliminary hearing.

Bradley T. Wright, who described himself as Betty’s long-term boyfriend, said Broderick frequently told him she hated Daniel T. Broderick III and his new wife, and had said she wanted to kill them.

Since Nov. 5, when the couple was found shot to death in the bedroom of their Marston Hills home, Wright said, he had talked often to Betty, who admits that she killed Daniel, 44, and Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28.

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“We’ve talked about it,” Wright said.

“And she’s admitted killing them?” asked Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells.

“Yes,” Wright said.

“Did she ever make a comment to you that the medical community owed her thanks for killing Dan Broderick?” Wells continued.

“Yes,” he said.

Broderick’s hearing began only after her attorney, Jack Earley, attempted to cancel it altogether. Just before Wells was to call her first witness, Earley announced that Broderick, 42, would waive her right to the hearing “to spare family and friends a great deal of discomfort.”

Wells called Earley’s move a “last-minute trick.” She said that, because the double homicide is potentially a death-penalty case, the hearing was essential to establish whether special circumstances are involved. The death penalty can be imposed in California only in cases involving special circumstances.

When San Diego Municipal Judge E. Mac Amos Jr. assented, the first day of testimony began. By day’s end, Amos had heard the most detailed description of the crime to date, as told by Betty and Daniel Broderick’s two daughters, Kim, 20, and Lee, 19; Diane Black, a friend who saw Betty on the day of the slayings; two homicide detectives, and a deputy medical examiner. The prosecution plans to call two more witnesses today.

Lee Broderick testified that she was awakened on the morning of the two slayings by a telephone call from her mother, who told her she had just left Daniel and Linda’s home.

“I shot your father. I shot the son of a bitch,” Lee recalled her mother as saying.

Betty then went to Lee’s Pacific Beach apartment, and Lee saw a .38-caliber, five-shot revolver in her mother’s purse. Betty vomited “a few times” and then told Lee her father’s dying words.

“I was asking her, ‘How did you know you shot him?’ She said, ‘He said something to me, so I think he’s probably OK.’ . . . She heard him say, ‘OK, you shot me. I’m dead.’ And then he fell off the bed, and she pulled the phone out of the wall and left.”

San Diego Police Detective Terry DeGelder testified that investigators found that a telephone had been torn out of the wall near Daniel’s side of the bed. The phone, with its shredded wires, was found in the hallway outside Daniel and Linda’s room.

Diane Black said she, too, received an early-morning call from Betty on Nov. 5. Betty told her that she had just shot at Daniel and had intended to kill herself.

“She said that she thought there was (another) bullet in the gun and that she would have used it on herself,” Black said.

Later, Betty called Black again from Lee’s apartment and asked her to go with her to the police station to turn herself in. Black and another friend, Ronnie Brown, met Betty, Lee and Lee’s boyfriend, Jason Prantil, in a parking lot. The group discussed the matter, then Black and Brown accompanied Betty to see an attorney, who was by her side when she surrendered.

Kim Broderick testified that, about three weeks before the killings, she had lost her key chain, including a key to her father’s house. Betty helped her look in vain for the keys, she remembers. The keys remained lost until Nov. 5, when Betty took them with her to Lee’s apartment. Wells suggested that Betty may have used the keys to enter Daniel and Linda’s home.

Kim said she had had limited contact with her mother since the killings. In one of their few conversations, Kim said, her mother defended her actions and asked for her daughter’s loyalty.

“She said either she was going to have to die or he was going to--that she had to do it,” Kim recalled. “She got mad because I don’t understand. She said, ‘You’re always on his side.’ She was yelling. . . . She just hated him.”

Wells asked: “Would she kick you out of the house?”

“Yes,” Kim said.

“Would she tell you she hated you?”

“Yes.”

“Would she call you a traitor?”

“Yes.”

During her daughter’s testimony, Betty Broderick became agitated, gesturing and talking animatedly to her attorney and scribbling hurried notes. At one point, when the judge was conferring with the attorneys, Betty tried to get Kim’s attention.

“Hey, Kim!” she whispered. Kim stared straight ahead, refusing to meet her gaze.

According to police, five bullets were fired from Betty Broderick’s .38-caliber revolver before dawn the morning of the killings. One lodged in a nightstand beside Daniel and Linda’s bed. One hit a wall. Two struck Linda in the head and chest. One hit Daniel in the back.

During her questioning of Wright, Wells asked if he knew that Betty had been a talented marksman while “in school.”

Wright said, “She did mention at one time she had shot a gun, and she was pretty good at it.”

Before the hearing, Amos rejected Earley’s motion to remove Wells and the district attorney’s office from the case. Earley argued that Wells’ impartiality had been compromised when she interviewed three lawyers with whom Betty Broderick had spoken about her divorce.

Those lawyers spoke freely, Earley said, violating attorney-client privilege. Amos said Earley had failed to prove that a conflict existed.

Expected to testify today are Ronnie Brown and Maria Peralta, a former inmate at the Las Colinas jail for women who sent Betty Broderick a card that showed a penis wearing sunglasses. Broderick then forwarded the card to Wells.


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