A Superior Court judge will decide Sept. 18 if a jury should hear details of Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick's 16-year marriage and bitter divorce when she is tried next month on charges of murdering her ex-husband and his new wife.
Broderick, 42, is accused of killing her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, and his new wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick, last Nov. 5 in the couple's Marston Hills home.
After her arrest, Betty Broderick told The Times she had been driven to shoot the couple after years of courtroom battles over alimony and child custody. If the details of the trio's squabble are suppressed by the judge, her attorney said, it would seriously undercut her defense. She has pleaded not guilty.
At a hearing Tuesday, Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells told Judge Thomas Whelan that information and details about Daniel Broderick's personality and incidents that occurred years before the couple divorced were irrelevant and should not be presented at the trial.
But Jack Earley, Betty Broderick's attorney, said he could demonstrate the importance of such evidence. Earley has argued that Daniel Broderick, a prominent malpractice attorney, had influence in legal circles that gave him the upper hand during the divorce--an advantage that infuriated his ex-wife.
"I can see, in this case, there are a number of things that could become relevant," Earley said.
After the hearing, Earley said he likely would try to persuade the jury that Betty Broderick committed the murders in "self-defense" or in the "heat of passion."
In another development, Whelan announced that he would release copies of Betty Broderick's personal diaries to prosectors later this week. Whelan ordered the diaries released earlier this month, but the judge went through and removed several pages from each of the 10 volumes, pages that he said contained information that the prosecutors should not be privileged to see.
The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 27.