Therapist Portrays Broderick as ‘Angry’ : Court: During counseling on custody of children, Betty Broderick said, according to a psychologist giving testimony, “ ‘I’m not going to be a single parent of four kids. He’ll die first.’ ”


Former La Jolla socialite Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick threatened her ex-husband “all the time” and predicted he would die before she would accept sole custody of their four children after their bitter divorce, according to court testimony Monday.

Betty Broderick said she simply “was not letting go that easily,” according to a psychologist, one of the final witnesses for the prosecution in Broderick’s double-murder trial.

According to another witness Monday, Broderick made another prediction. She said that, if she did kill her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, and his second wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick, a jury would “let her off” because of “what Dan did to her,” one of his housekeepers said.


With one exception, Betty Broderick, who is due to testify in her own defense--probably today, according to her defense attorney--listened calmly Monday to the testimony. She brushed away tears while hearing how she was not allowed to receive a Valentine’s Day card this year in jail from her two sons, the younger two of her four children.

Broderick, 42, faces two counts of murder in the shooting deaths Nov. 5 of her ex-husband and his second wife, who were killed in their bed in their Marston Hills home. If convicted, she could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

She has pleaded not guilty and has been held without bail in the Las Colinas Jail in Santee since November.

Daniel Broderick, 44, was a prominent medical malpractice attorney and a former county bar president. Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28, was his office assistant.

During and after a bitter divorce, which began when the couple separated in 1985, Betty Broderick accused her husband of using his legal influence to cheat her out of her fair share of his seven-figure annual income.

Her defense lawyer, Jack Earley, conceded when the trial began last week that Betty Broderick fired the shots that killed her ex-husband and his second wife. But, according to Earley, she did not have the premeditation the law requires for first-degree murder because she intended only to kill herself when she sneaked into the couple’s home.


Betty Broderick’s boyfriend, Bradley T. Wright, who said they began dating in 1985, testified Monday--as a prosecution witness--that she was “suicidal.”

In her own handwriting, Betty Broderick wrote on a letter sent to her divorce lawyer--and passed on to her--the week before the killings, “I can’t stand this any more.” That letter was presented Monday to jurors.

On the letter, Betty Broderick wrote, “Constant threats of court, jail, contempt, fines, etc., which is very scary to me and no matter what the evidence I always lose.” And: “Them always insinuating I’m crazy.”

Ruth Roth, a psychologist who tried to mediate a resolution to the dispute between Daniel and Betty Broderick over custody of their four children, testified Monday that Betty Broderick did not suffer from mental disorders. “I think she was angry,” Roth said.

Roth also said that the threats she knew about came from Betty Broderick. Roth said Betty Broderick told her she threatened her ex-husband “all the time.”

Roth interviewed Betty Broderick and Daniel Broderick in March, 1987, while trying to get the parents to agree to a custody arrangement that would avoid a court order. Daniel and Betty Broderick had four children--two daughters and two sons.


In 1985, Betty Broderick had given her estranged husband the children, dropping them off on his doorstep, one by one. Still, she contended that she wanted custody of the children--and at other times, according to testimony, said she would refuse to accept that custody.

By late 1989, Daniel Broderick was considering returning custody of the two boys--the younger children--to her, according to testimony Monday from one of his lawyers, Kathleen Cuffaro.

But, Roth said, Betty Broderick refused to discuss custody matters during the talks she had alone with her and “started off on her own agenda.”

On March 3, 1987, Betty Broderick said, “ ‘I’m not going to be a single parent of four kids. He’ll die first,’ ” according to Roth.

In that same session, Betty Broderick said, “ ‘The less I see them or hear from them, the better,’ ” referring to the children, according to Roth. “ ‘No bother, no kids.’ ”

Alarmed, Roth said she decided she had to forgo the rule that requires the conversations therapists have with patients to be kept secret, and told Daniel Broderick of the comments. The law allows a breach of the rule when threats are made, Roth said.


On March 12, 1987, Broderick repeated her comments, Roth said, telling her, “ ‘No way, I’m not going to be the single mother of four kids. He’ll die first. I’m not letting go that easy. The little (expletive) was mine, and he’ll stay mine,” referring to Daniel Broderick.

Roth said she asked Betty Broderick if that was a threat.

“ ‘I threaten the (expletive) all the time,’ ” Broderick said, according to Roth.

Sylvia M. Cavins, Daniel Broderick’s housekeeper from December 1987 through November 1989, said she heard Betty Broderick make three threats she considered real in those two years.

In the spring of 1989, about the time Daniel Broderick and Linda Kolkena were married, Betty Broderick threatened to put “four bullets in Dan’s head, one for each of the kids,” Cavins said.

Defense lawyer Earley asked Cavins why, when she told police investigators about the threat, she said that Betty Broderick planned to shoot three times--not four, as Cavins said on the witness stand. “I must have meant four,” Cavins said.

She also said the first of the three threats was issued shortly after she began working for Daniel Broderick, when Betty Broderick said “she would kill Dan,” Cavins said.

“I said, ‘Oh, great, he’d be dead and you’d either be dead or in prison, and the children would be orphans,’ ” Cavins said.


According to Cavins, Betty Broderick said “that would not be a problem, because a jury, when (it) found out what Dan did to her, would let her off.”

“I said, ‘I wouldn’t count on that,’ ” Cavins said.