Broderick Trial Attorneys Argue Issue of Intent


A woman who killed her ex-husband and his new wife should be convicted of murder because her actions were “intentional, calculated, deliberate and incredibly cold,” a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments in the second trial of Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick.

Defense attorney Jack Earley countered that Broderick should be held accountable but that she was driven to the double homicide by years of emotional abuse from her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, a prominent medical malpractice attorney. At worst, her crime was manslaughter, Earley said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells told the seven-man, five-woman jury, which may begin deliberating today, that Broderick’s killing of two people who “lay helpless in their sleep” conforms to the legal definition of premeditated, first-degree murder.

The prosecution is seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole. The maximum sentence for a single manslaughter count is 15 years. But for killing two people, Broderick could receive 30 years.


In a closing argument that took most of Wednesday’s session, Earley began by placing a ticking metronome on the witness stand. He said it offered no better example of the “drip, drip, drip” by which Daniel Broderick attempted to drive his ex-wife crazy.

“It goes on and on,” Earley said. “The sound is enough to drive you crazy after you hear it over and over and over again.”

Today’s session is scheduled to begin with Wells offering a final argument in rebuttal, followed by instructions to the jury from Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan.

Earley urged jurors to consider manslaughter by putting themselves in her place. He defined the crime as taking place in the “heat of passion.”


Broderick, 44, is accused of murdering her ex-husband, 44, and his second wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28, in the bedroom of their San Diego 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.

Wells argued that whether the jury sees the crime as first- or second-degree murder, it was murder nonetheless.

Wells picked up the weapon Broderick used just before the pre-dawn killings and said, “You don’t point a .38-caliber gun that you know is loaded with hollow-point bullets at two people just inches away without intending to kill them . . . If that isn’t murder, I don’t know what is.”


Wells said Broderick walked over to a dying and bleeding Daniel Broderick and smacked his hand with the butt of her gun because he was lunging for the telephone.

And, Wells said, Broderick ripped the phone cord out of the wall before leaving.