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La Jolla Woman Confesses to Murders : Crime: In a call from jail, Betty Broderick terms the slayings of her ex-husband and his new wife a ‘desperate act of self-defense.’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick on Tuesday confessed in a newspaper interview to killing her ex-husband and his new wife last November, describing the slayings as a “desperate act of self-defense” against a man who wanted “to control me totally.”

In a telephone interview with The Times, the 42-year-old mother of four said she did not plan to kill Daniel T. Broderick III, 44, and his 28-year-old wife, Linda, in the early morning hours on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Speaking from a pay phone at a San Diego County jail where she has been held since her arrest on murder charges the day of the killings, she said: “I had just bought about $400 worth of groceries on Saturday. I bought fresh veal and swordfish and all this wonderful stuff. Do you think I knew? I had no idea I was going to do this at all. I didn’t know I was doing it.”

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But Betty Broderick said that late Saturday night she had trouble sleeping. She went to the kitchen of her La Jolla home and reread some legal papers she had received on Friday from Daniel Broderick, a prominent San Diego malpractice attorney. The papers said she was in contempt of court because she had left vulgar messages on Daniel and Linda Broderick’s telephone answering machine.

“I knew I couldn’t win,” said Betty Broderick, who had been negotiating with her ex-husband to gain custody of their two younger children, Danny and Rhett.

So, she said, she got dressed, got in her car and started driving. “When I left my house, I didn’t know where I was going,” she said, but she ended up at her ex-husband’s house not far from downtown San Diego.

Betty Broderick had a ring of keys that her maid had found behind a chair in her house. According to testimony at her preliminary hearing last week, they were her daughter Kimberly’s keys, and one of them fit the door to her ex-husband’s home.

Betty Broderick said she climbed the stairs to the bedroom.

She said she started firing her .38-caliber, five-shot revolver, but she wasn’t sure if she had hit anyone.

“It was such a panicked thing. It was never a thing where I even aimed. I pulled (the trigger) real fast--no hesitation at all,” she said.

Then Daniel Broderick spoke, she said.

“He didn’t say, ‘You shot me,’ ” she said, correcting her daughters’ testimony at the hearing. “He said, ‘OK, OK, you got me.’ There was no pain and there was no blood. It was simple.”

Linda Broderick was shot in the head and chest. Daniel Broderick was hit once in the back. Another bullet struck the wall, police said, and a fifth hit a bedside table.

“I had no bullets or anything and I just had to get out of there,” she said. Then she saw Daniel Broderick. “He was on the floor and the phone was right next to him. I thought, ‘Oh, my God! He is going to be on that phone before I’m down the stairs.’ ”

She said she pulled the phone out of the wall and fled.

Betty and Daniel Broderick had divorced in 1986, after 16 years of marriage. She accused him of using his legal influence to cheat her out of her share of his seven-figure income. She was receiving $16,100 a month at the time of the murders. Daniel Broderick had told friends his ex-wife would not dare kill him because he was her “golden goose.”

Betty Broderick’s statements Tuesday confirmed testimony at her preliminary hearing, where her two daughters and two friends testified that she had admitted shooting Daniel and Linda Broderick.

Betty Broderick, who has pleaded not guilty to the slayings, is scheduled to be arraigned in San Diego Superior Court next Tuesday.


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