Broderick’s Rage Linked to Disorders, Psychiatrist Says : Killings: Dual-personality disturbances triggered her wild homicidal fury, a veteran of high-profile criminal trials testifies.
A prominent psychiatrist testified Tuesday that Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick suffered from dual-personality disorders, and that her behavior was characterized by wild exaggeration, petty vindictiveness and homicidal rage.
Dr. Park Elliott Dietz, an expert witness in some of the country’s most high-profile criminal trials--involving would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley and Robert Bardo, an obsessive fan who stalked and murdered a Hollywood actress--testified for the prosecution.
Dietz, who did not appear in last year’s trial, and who conceded that he had not interviewed Broderick, testified that she suffered from depression, but that she was neither insane nor mentally ill.
Rather, he said, she suffers from two personality disorders, which he labeled narcissistic and histrionic, and said that, unlike an insane or mentally ill person, she controls the disorder, “the disorder is not controlling her.”
Dietz said that Broderick’s narcissism and lack of compassion were never more apparent than in threats she made about killing her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, 44, and his second wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28.
Broderick, 44, is accused of murdering the couple in the bedroom of their Marston Hills home on the morning of Nov. 5, 1989. Last year’s trial ended in a hung jury, with 10 jurors favoring a murder conviction and two holding out for manslaughter.
“Mrs. Broderick frequently stated to other people that she had a gun and was going to kill Dan and Linda, and rationalized that, when she did so, she wouldn’t get in any trouble for it because the world would thank her for it,” Dietz said.
“And, in fact, she even said the world would be better off.”
Dietz cited further examples of what he called histrionic and narcissistic tendencies, such as “throwing things at Dan, locking him out of the house, criticizing him in front of other people. . . . Those are all ways she would respond when her pride was wounded.
“Grabbing people by the arm and digging in her fingernails. Kicking (daughters) Kim and Lee out of the house. These are rageful acts.”
He listed the characteristics of a narcissist as someone “with a swollen ego” and a “sense of grandiosity.” Such a person is “thin-skinned” and “hyper-sensitive” to how they’re perceived by others, and, he said, they’re often consumed by envy.
They are “exploitative of others--they use people to meet their own needs,” he said, and “feel a sense of entitlement. . . . ‘The world owes me respect, money and fame.’ They require constant attention and admiration from others, and they lack empathy.”
Dietz said that, by clinical definition, a narcissistic person is someone who fits five of the nine criteria set forth in psychiatric manuals. Broderick, he said, fits “nine out of nine.”
In rendering his analysis of Broderick, Dietz said he had used court documents, trial transcripts, the psychological tests and interviews of others, and Broderick’s own diaries and Marriage Encounter book, written during a Catholic retreat in 1976.
Last week, prosecutors Kerry Wells and Paul Burakoff asked Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan if Dietz could interview Broderick, a request Whelan denied. Dr. Melvin Goldzband, who testified last year as the prosecution psychiatrist, was unavailable this year.
Dietz said he had made extensive use of Goldzband’s analysis, which also concluded that Broderick had dual personality disorders, narcissistic and histrionic.
Dietz said that, after drifter John Hinckley shot and wounded President Reagan and press secretary James S. Brady in 1981, he interviewed and studied him for more than a year as the chief prosecution psychiatrist. Under cross-examination, Dietz acknowledged that he had found Hinckley not to be mentally ill.
Hinckley was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and is now in a mental institution.
Last month, Dietz testified for the defense in the trial of Robert Bardo, 21, a Tucson, Ariz., man who stalked and then shot to death television actress Rebecca Schaeffer when she answered the door of her Los Angeles apartment in 1989.
Schaeffer was co-star of the television series “My Sister Sam.”
Bardo was convicted of first-degree murder despite Dietz’s testimony that he was schizophrenic.
In this trial, Dietz said he disagreed with defense psychologist Katherine DiFrancesca, who said Broderick reached a psychological turning point in 1983, when her husband began an affair with his office assistant, Linda Kolkena. DiFrancesca said that Broderick suffered greatly from depression, which was made worse after 1983.
Dietz offered a different interpretation.
“Losing one’s husband in an affair is the ultimate criticism for any narcissist,” Dietz said. “To think their husband is cheating on them .”
Dietz said Broderick was “using her children as pawns,” citing obscenity-filled phone conversations with sons Danny and Rhett while both were living at their father’s house and putting them in the middle of divorce and custody disputes.
He said she gave little thought to what effect such conversations or acts of vandalism--such as driving her truck through the front door of her ex-husband’s house--would have on her four children, because they fulfilled the narcissist’s “higher purpose of revenge.”
Dietz said Broderick’s histrionic side was most often seen in “temper tantrums and inappropriate exaggeration.” He cited her own description, written in one of nine diaries, about Daniel Broderick “having kidnaped my children and held me hostage for four years and terminated me as a mother.”
“These are colorful metaphors that attract a lot of attention,” Dietz said, “but they are hardly an accurate historical account.”
Dietz testified for most of the day, and defense attorney Jack Earley had barely begun cross-examination when the judge recessed the trial until 9 a.m. today. The judge said he remains optimistic that testimony and closing arguments can be concluded next week.
Tuesday’s testimony began 80 minutes later than expected, because condensation from the air conditioning units above the fifth-floor courtroom leaked from the ceiling, leaving several pieces of evidence soaking wet.
Whelan said that, although many items were “curled around the edges,” none appeared to be irreparably damaged by the leaky roof.
After bailiffs attempted to dry the items, Manny Lopez, a private investigator who once worked as a San Diego police officer, took the stand as the final defense witness.
Lopez, who appeared in Joseph Wambaugh’s book, “Lines and Shadows,” testified that, as a border task-force officer involved in six shootings, he never remembered how many shots he fired or whether the chamber was empty after the bullets started flying.
His paid testimony was solicited to support comments made by Broderick under cross-examination when she was asked about what happened in the bedroom in which Daniel and Linda Broderick were slain.