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Broderick Calls Two Slayings ‘Will of God’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A day after she was convicted on two counts of second-degree murder, Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick said Wednesday that killing her ex-husband and his second wife was “the will of God,” as was the verdict and the prison sentence yet to come.

Broderick, 44, whose case attracted national attention, said in a telephone interview with The Times that visualizing prison, where she could spend from 17 years to life, is all but impossible.

“It’s a total unknown,” she said. “During my entire ordeal, I’ve had to take everything one day at a time. It’s the only way I’ve managed to survive. I tried to take things a minute at a time. Even looking at the next 24 hours was too scary.”

Broderick said her life collapsed even before Nov. 5, 1989, when she used her daughter’s key to enter the San Diego home of Daniel T. Broderick III, 44, and Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28, his wife of six months, with whom he began an affair in 1983.

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She killed the couple with five shots from a .38-caliber revolver but said she went to the home hoping only to confront them over problems in an ongoing divorce and custody dispute. Last year’s trial ended in a hung jury, with two jurors holding out for manslaughter.

Broderick contends that her ex-husband, a prominent medical malpractice attorney and past president of the San Diego County Bar Assn., left her emotionally abused and victimized by a legal system vulnerable to his influence and standing.

She said she was amused by public reaction to the smile she gave upon hearing Tuesday’s verdict. But Broderick said the smile was meant sincerely and was merely an attempt to please the court clerk.

When the clerk, Rosie Cerda, read Tuesday’s verdict, her voice was shaking, and at that moment, Broderick recalled Wednesday with a wry laugh, “That became my overriding concern.

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“As soon as I tell everyone everything is going to be fine, I go to pieces. What my smile was saying was, ‘Rosie, it’s going to be OK, don’t cry, Rosie. . . .’ ”

Broderick said she didn’t blame jurors for compromising on a verdict of second-degree murder. In interviews, jurors said some were leaning toward a manslaughter conviction, while others wanted a verdict of first-degree murder.

“If I could have hugged each of the jurors, I would have,” Broderick said. “I would have told them it was OK. I wouldn’t want them to live under any kind of burden because of me. But I do wish the people who believed it was manslaughter had been stronger.”

Broderick said the second trial was emotionally upsetting, not because she thought Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan--who will sentence her Feb. 7--had disallowed important witnesses, but because of concerns about her four children.

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Broderick said her only way of surviving is to accept what happens.

“This will sound crazy, but I do believe that what happened in that room (where the killings occurred) was the will of God,” she said. “What happened in that jury room and with the verdict was the will of God. And the sentencing will be the same. Whatever happens, I have to live with for the rest of my life.”


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