Twice on the same day, Linda Kolkena Broderick entered the La Jolla home of Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick “without permission” and took personal documents from her bedroom, Elisabeth Broderick’s former housekeeper testified Thursday.
In the first full day of testimony from defense witnesses, Maria Montez said the incident happened in the spring of 1989, several months before Daniel T. Broderick III and his new wife were shot to death in the bedroom of their Marston Hills home.
Montez testified that, when she entered the home, Linda Broderick “was already inside Mrs. Broderick’s bedroom. When I heard noises, I said, ‘Hello, is anybody in the house?’ And she said, ‘It’s me. I’m a friend of Betty’s. I came to see the house.’ ”
Speaking through an interpreter, Montez testified that Linda Broderick had disturbed “some documents” in Elisabeth Broderick’s bedroom, “but I don’t know what she took.” She said Linda Broderick came back “four to five hours later” and returned the documents.
Defense attorney Jack Earley said later that Linda Broderick entered the home on the same day that Elisabeth Broderick received a four-hour notice about the sale of the lavish La Jolla home she once shared with her ex-husband, Daniel Broderick.
“Betty got several phone calls at work--hang-up calls--so she ran home and found out she had a four-hour notice,” Earley said. “So, she ran down to court. During the time she was gone, Linda broke into the house.”
Asked to clarify what he meant by breaking in, Earley said: “She got in somehow. Ostensibly, she went to retrieve a wedding list but took some of Betty’s materials and diaries. We don’t know if she copied them or what she did. . . . She did bring them back.”
Previous testimony indicated that, some time before, Elisabeth Broderick had entered her ex-husband’s home in violation of a restraining order and seized the guest list for his upcoming wedding to Linda Kolkena.
The couple were married in the spring of 1989 and found dead on the morning of Nov. 5, 1989.
Other witnesses have testified that Elisabeth Broderick threatened to kill the couple during their wedding, at the Marston Hills home. Witnesses said that Daniel Broderick hired a security firm to guard the home throughout the ceremony and to monitor Elisabeth Broderick’s activities leading up to the wedding day.
Citing numerous death threats against the couple, the prosecution maintains that Elisabeth Broderick committed premeditated, first-degree murder in killing the couple “as they lay helpless in their sleep.”
The defense maintains that the couple were awake, and talking, and that Elisabeth Broderick fired five shots from a .38-caliber revolver because she was frightened into doing so. Earley says she went to the home intending only to kill herself.
Broderick’s first trial last year ended in a hung jury, with 10 jurors opting for a murder conviction and two holding out for manslaughter. Earley has since tried to bargain a plea, which the prosecution refused.
The defense maintains that Elisabeth Broderick felt frustrated and helpless after a succession of divorce-related legal maneuvers engineered by her ex-husband, a prominent medical malpractice attorney and past president of the San Diego County Bar Assn.
The prosecution cites Elisabeth Broderick as having received her half of the sale of the house in La Jolla and $16,100 a month in support payments.
The defense began the day by having a queen-size bed set up in front of the jury. The bed was fitted with sheets from the crime scene--sheets still marked with bloodstains and bullet holes.
Inches away, resting on top of the briefcase of Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells, was a toy figurine of a pumpkin with a ghostlike figure rising above it. The court reporter wore Halloween-pumpkin earrings that bobbed up and down as she typed in the day’s testimony.
And, outside the courtroom, Elisabeth Broderick’s mother, Marita Bisceglia, sat reading her prayer book. She didn’t want to come in, she told a reporter; she has a light cold and a cough and “didn’t want to worry Betty Anne.”
Her father, Frank Bisceglia, sat through Thursday’s testimony, which included criminalist V. Parker Bell telling the jury he had “doubts” about the findings of the San Diego Police Department in relation to the shooting of Daniel Broderick.
Bell’s testimony and the presence of the bed were meant to show, Earley said, “that there’s no way of telling what was going on in there, but there was obviously a lot of movement.
“I hope the jury understood that you can’t come in and say, ‘There was a person lying here, and a person lying here, and they were asleep or not asleep.’ Obviously, when you look at the bed, there was a lot of stuff going on . . . a lot of movement.”
Nevertheless, Earley conceded that having a jury stare at a blood-stained bed was “a risk.”
He said Elisabeth Broderick could be called to testify today.