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La Jolla Socialite Says Jail Is ‘Just What I Needed’ : Killings: Broderick is behind bars awaiting second trial for shooting her ex-husband and his second wife. She says she may be willing to plea-bargain.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Four months removed from her murder trial, La Jolla socialite Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick would like the world to know that she is doing fabulously well in jail.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “Just what I needed.”

No responsibilities, no bills, no gardeners to worry about, no dishes to do, she said. Just rest and relaxation.

“I’m very slowly, but steadily, turning into a human being that functions again,” she said.

Broderick’s weight, which ballooned in the first months after she killed her ex-husband and his second wife, “is steadily going back to the place I’ve always been,” she said.

So if she has to spend the rest of her life in prison, so be it, Broderick said in a recent 45-minute phone interview from the Las Colinas Jail in Santee.

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The inmate said she would rather do something constructive, such as work with children. Better yet, of course, would be to get out of jail and spend time with her children, she said.

Broderick said she talks often to her two oldest children, grown daughters, but is forbidden by the court to talk with the younger two, 12- and 15-year-old sons, and misses them.

A hearing is set for Wednesday to confirm the Aug. 5 date for a second trial. The first one ended in a mistrial last November. Broderick said she has begun to consider cutting a deal with prosecutors.

“I’m surveying the kids,” she said. After a family spring break get-together next week in Florida, “They’re going to tell me what they want; how many years it is that won’t drive me crazy if I’m in.

“Because if they don’t care, I don’t care” if it is life in prison, she said. “But if they want me out and I’m in prison, I’ll care.”

She added: “I have a definite point of view on what I’d take. I’m a very reasonable person.”

She declined to elaborate.

Defense lawyer Jack Earley of Newport Beach said he is interested in a deal. He said that a second trial, or any number of trials, might end in mistrials. The first jury deadlocked 10 for murder, two for manslaughter.

“Obviously, it costs hundreds of thousands to do it (retrial),” he said. “It’s in everyone’s interest to resolve it. And so we’re going to still explore it.”

Deputy San Diego County Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells said she is ready to entertain another offer.

Broderick, 43, was charged with two counts of murder in the Nov. 5, 1989, shooting deaths of her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, and his second wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick.

Daniel Broderick, 44, was a prominent medical malpractice attorney and former president of the San Diego County Bar Assn. Linda Broderick, 28, was his office assistant.

Broderick has admitted firing the fatal shots. The issue is whether she had the premeditation the law requires for first-degree murder. Broderick maintains that she intended only to confront her former spouse and kill herself when she stole into his house.

The case has drawn intense attention. The Brodericks’ oldest daughter, Kim, visited her mother recently at the Santee jail, where the defendant has remained since she surrendered the day of the killings.

“When Kim was here, she said she was out and about and heard more about me than the war,” Broderick said. “I think it’s a phenomenon. I don’t understand it. It makes me feel weird.”

An article in this month’s Ladies’ Home Journal rehashes the case, entitled “Hell Hath No Fury.”

The title of the magazine article, Broderick said, made the case seem like it was about revenge and jealousy. She sees it differently, contending that during and after the divorce, Daniel Broderick used his legal influence to cheat her out of her children and a fair share of his seven-figure income.

“Maybe I am blinded to a degree, but I don’t think revenge and jealousy came out at the trial,” she said. “That was the kind of thing that everybody wanted to believe it was at the beginning. But that had nothing to do with it. Leaving me for a younger woman. That had nothing to do with what happened subsequently.”

Broderick said she has “never been jealous of Linda Kolkena for a moment in my life. Ever.”

If she were truly motivated by jealousy and revenge, Betty Broderick said, things would have been a lot different.

“I’d tie them up where they couldn’t move and I’d torture them every single day and single night for six years,” she said. “I’d leave them at night where no one could hear them screaming, come back and give them cigarette burns and kick them, like torturers do.

“Because that’s what it felt like they were doing to me.”

The magazine article is likely to bring more mail. Even without her name in headlines every day, Broderick gets about 250 letters a month, many from sympathetic women, she said.

“From Australia, the Philippines, from weird countries that somehow have picked up this story,” she said. “I have so many people offering to do anything for me. They offer underwear, fudge, money, brownies. ‘Anything I can do for you, let me know, let me know.’ ”

Visiting hours at the jail begin some days at 6 in the morning and one film producer said he would be by at the crack of dawn this last weekend, she said.

“I don’t know why he’s coming,” she said. “I’ve said, ‘No,’ a hundred times.”

It is just easier, she said, to keep the world at bay in jail.

“It’s the lack of stress, continual, relentless stress,” she said.

The divorce battle felt like “having alarms and bells and sirens going off in your head nonstop for years. It really wears you down. Then I had depression.”

The day of the killings, she said, she was “over the edge, into the dark oblivion of craziness. All I needed was somebody to say, ‘Don’t worry, Betty, I’ll take care of this for you.”

That is what has happened in jail, she said.

“It’s early retirement. But what a waste. I’m too young to waste like that.”


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