Broderick Loved Money the Most, Friend Testifies
Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick was a compulsive shopper who worshiped money above her children, and who said from jail that she “had never been happier” since killing her ex-husband and his new wife, a longtime friend of Broderick’s said Thursday.
The friend, Helen Pickard, testified at Broderick’s double-murder trial that the former La Jolla socialite had called her twice from jail to say her four children were “better off with their father"--her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III--"destroyed.”
Pickard also said Thursday that Broderick said in one of the calls that she had also “destroyed” Daniel Broderick’s new wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick, because she was “leading my life.” Pickard said, “She said it with a kind of a laugh, like it didn’t matter, like it really didn’t bother her.”
Broderick, on trial for two counts of murder, showed no emotion toward her old friend in court.
She also remained impassive through graphic testimony earlier Thursday, detailing that she phoned another friend in the hours just after shooting her ex-husband and new wife last November and, in explicit terms, admitted the shooting and said she could hear him “gurgling in his own blood.”
It was only when her daughter, Lee Broderick, the second of her two daughters to testify against her in two days, took the stand that Broderick showed any emotion.
She traded shy smiles with her daughter, who said that her mother called immediately after the shootings and said: “I shot your dad. I shot the s.o.b.”
Betty Broderick, 42, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of murder in the shooting deaths last Nov. 5. She has pleaded not guilty and has been held without bail in the Las Colinas Jail since November.
Daniel Broderick was a prominent medical malpractice lawyer and a former county bar president.
The prosecution expects to close its case Monday. Betty Broderick will testify in her own defense, according to her defense lawyer.
During and after a bitter divorce, which started when the couple separated in 1985 and took four years, Betty Broderick accused her husband of using his legal influence to cheat her out of her fair share of his seven-figure annual income.
The divorce concluded in January, 1989, with a court ordering Daniel Broderick to pay Betty Broderick $16,000 a month--or $193,200 a year. But Betty Broderick said that was “not enough money for her to live the way she wanted to,” Pickard testified Thursday.
Patti Monahan, another longtime friend of Betty Broderick who testified Thursday, said her own divorce proceedings had ended with her being granted an award of $2,700 a month, or $32,400 annually. Betty Broderick said “most of us were rather naive and had settled for far less than we should have,” Monahan said.
During the divorce proceedings, Pickard said, Betty Broderick was obsessed with getting her share of Daniel Broderick’s assets. Her priority was getting money, then worrying about who would have custody of the couple’s four children, Pickard said.
“She was real close to money,” Pickard said. “She loved money. She worshiped it. She was a very materialistic woman. She always was.”
“When things would go wrong, she would spend,” Pickard said, calling Broderick an “alcoholic spender.”
The “closet wasn’t big enough” for all of Broderick’s clothes, Pickard said, saying that, even during the divorce proceedings, she would see expensive outfits in Broderick’s closet “with tags that hadn’t even been cut off.”
Monahan said that, after separating from Daniel Broderick, Betty Broderick bought a $40,000 fur coat. Broderick used to order catalogues just so she “could call back East early in the morning” and begin shopping, Pickard said.
Two days before the killings, Broderick was “agitated” and “really, really angry” because she thought she would have to sell her house, Pickard said. In addition, Daniel Broderick had sent her the last in a long line of letters, threatening further legal action, Pickard said.
The next day, Betty Broderick told Pickard: “Linda is leading my life.”
On Nov. 5, before dawn, Betty Broderick shot and killed her ex-husband and new wife in their Marston Hills home, according to testimony earlier this week.
At 7:20 a.m., shortly after the shootings, Betty Broderick called her daughter, Lee, from a pay phone in Clairemont. Betty Broderick was “pretty hysterical,” said she had fired all five bullets in her .38-caliber revolver and had intended to kill herself but “there weren’t any bullets in her gun,” Lee Broderick testified.
After the call, Betty Broderick came over to her daughter’s Pacific Beach apartment. “She said she couldn’t go on like this anymore,” Lee Broderick said.
“Her voice was trembling, she was talking very fast, walking around the room, and she wouldn’t sit still,” Lee Broderick said. After a sip of tea, Betty Broderick “got sick in the bathroom and kept getting sick. I gave her a hug.”
Lee Broderick said she was “surprised” that her mother, who had threatened to kill her father for years, actually had carried out the killings, though they had been violent with each other.
In February, 1986, after being provoked by the court-ordered sale of her house, which Daniel Broderick engineered, Betty Broderick slammed her car into the front door of his house. He came outside and she hit him on the head with a brass key ring before he decked her with a punch to the chest, said Lee Broderick, who had tried to separate her parents in the fight.
Last Nov. 5, however, Monahan said, Betty Broderick really “flipped out.”
After throwing up at her daughter’s house, Betty Broderick made a series of phone calls, one to Monahan, Lee Broderick said. Monahan said she no longer remembers the graphic details of the call.
But Monahan’s boyfriend, Jerry Thatcher, also testified Thursday, saying that Monahan told him about the call as soon as she hung up--and he remembered it “very clearly” because it was so graphic.
According to Thatcher, Betty told Monahan, “I shot the (expletive),” referring to Daniel Broderick. “I shot five times. He was gurgling in his own blood. It’s true, you do (lose bowel control) in your own pants.”
Defense lawyer Jack Earley objected to the testimony, contending it should not have been presented to the jury because it was legal hearsay--the repetition in court of what a person heard someone else say out of court. Hearsay statements are not allowable in court.
However, San Diego Superior Court Judge Thomas Whelan allowed Thatcher to repeat the statement after ruling that it fell within an exception to the complicated hearsay rules. The exception allows statements made spontaneously by people under stress because they have no time to think up a lie, Whelan said.
One of Betty Broderick’s calls on the morning of Nov. 5 was to a lawyer, Lee Broderick said. Later that day, Betty Broderick turned herself in to police, her daughter said.
On Nov. 26, Betty Broderick called from jail, Pickard said. “I was taken aback by it,” Pickard said. “She said she’d never been happier. She was real exuberant.”
On Dec. 26, Betty Broderick called again, Pickard said. She said Linda Kolkena Broderick had been “destroying my life, destroying my family, destroying my children, destroying my social life.”
“I said, ‘So you destroyed her?’ ” Pickard said. “She said, ‘Yes.’ ”
In that call, Betty Broderick also said that “her children would be better off with their father destroyed,” Pickard testified.
And being in jail “didn’t seem to have a major effect” on Betty Broderick, Pickard said. “I did not get the impression it was a traumatic experience.”
During her testimony Thursday, Lee Broderick added a mysterious note.
She testified that it had been suggested to her that she, too, could be facing criminal charges in connection with her father’s death “because of when I signed the insurance papers and when my dad died. I was told by my lawyer that they were going to try to make it look like I had something to do with it.”
Lee Broderick left the courtroom shortly after she testified and did not elaborate. Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells, the prosecutor in the case, said she “knew nothing” about the comment.
Earlier this week, Kim Broderick, Lee Broderick’s sister, testified that their father purchased a $2-million insurance policy a month before the killings. If he died, $1 million was to go to his new wife and $250,000 to each of the four Broderick children--Kim, Lee, Danny, 14, and Rhett, 11.
Donald F. Woods Jr., a Los Angeles lawyer who said he was representing Lee Broderick “in a matter involving insurance,” said he was “really caught off-guard by the statement.”
But he said he could not comment on it because any conversation he had with Lee Broderick had to remain secret because of the confidentiality rules that protect discussions lawyers have with their clients.