Suit Reignites Controversy in Broderick Murder Case : Courts: A bank says the brother of the slain attorney owes money to two Broderick children. The convicted woman claims the case shows her ex-husband tried to hide assets.
More than three years have passed since Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick shot and killed her ex-husband and his new wife as they lay in bed in their Georgian-style mansion.
Convicted of second-degree murder, Broderick, 45, is serving 32 years to life in the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. She cannot be paroled until 2010.
By the end of this year, two television movies and three books will have chronicled the Broderick case, which inflamed people across the country with a tragic story line that mingled wealth and power with divorce, infidelity and homicide.
Long after the end of Broderick’s marriage to Daniel T. Broderick III, a prominent medical malpractice attorney and past president of the San Diego County Bar Assn., repercussions of the case linger.
Late last month, Union Bank of San Diego filed suit against Colorado businessman Laurance G. (Larry) Broderick, the brother of Daniel Broderick, accusing him of failing to repay two-thirds of a $450,000 loan--money owed to Daniel and Betty Broderick’s sons, Danny, 16, and Rhett, 14.
The suit does not address the remaining third owed to Kim Broderick, 23, the oldest of four children. Lee Broderick, 21, a fourth child, was not included in the will. The bank filed suit as guardian of the boys’ estates, and alleges that Larry Broderick failed to repay a 7% interest loan by July, 1989.
Larry Broderick borrowed the money from his brother in 1988, more than a year before Daniel Broderick, 44, and his former legal assistant, Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28, were gunned down in the bedroom of their home near Balboa Park on the morning of Nov. 5, 1989.
Newport Beach attorney Jack Earley, who represented Betty Broderick in both of her murder trials, said the suit proves her contention “that Dan was transferring assets to his brother (during a bitter divorce) in an attempt to . . . make it appear Dan had less money.”
The suit says Larry Broderick entered the agreement with his brother in July, 1988. The divorce hearing took place, Earley said, later that year and in 1989. Betty Broderick has long contended that her ex-husband wielded his power and legal influence against her.
Larry Broderick could not be reached for comment, but sources close to the case say the Colorado recession and building slump have taken a toll on his lumber business in Denver.
“Larry had borrowed money from Dan’s pension plan and hadn’t paid it back,” said an attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name. “He was in the lumber business, and the spotted owl (controversy) really hurt him.”
In the meantime, Larry Broderick’s ex-wife, Kathy Broderick, who, after the slayings, was given sole custody of Rhett and Danny, relinquished that role earlier this month after the boys expressed a desire to live elsewhere. According to court documents, Danny now lives in La Jolla, and Rhett has moved to St. Louis.
Until recently, Danny lived with Helen Pickard, a family friend who testified against Betty Broderick in the two trials, the first of which ended in a hung jury. Before that, he and his brother lived with Kathy Broderick from the time of the slayings until about a year ago.
Danny, for whom permanent custody will be decided at a hearing March 9, lives with his sister Kim Broderick and attends La Jolla High School, where friends say he’s an honors student. Rhett now lives with an uncle, Gerard Bisceglia, Betty Broderick’s brother.
Friends of the family say Lee Broderick, 21, lives in San Diego and works as a hostess at a restaurant. Around the time that Lee Broderick moved out of her father’s house and back in with her mother, he wrote her out of his will, and she was never reinstated.
During both trials, Lee Broderick testified for the defense, Kim Broderick for the prosecution. Although highly doubtful, it is not out of the realm of possibility that a third trial could result: Broderick’s criminal appeal is scheduled for a hearing March 1.
Earley, who will not handle Broderick’s appeal, said grounds for a third trial should be based on “the exclusion of evidence (during the second trial) regarding Dan’s state of mind” before the homicides.
Earley said such evidence includes the testimony of an alleged hit man, who, in a widely publicized incident during the second trial, was denied the opportunity of taking the stand by San Diego County Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan.
The alleged hit man was reportedly willing to say that he had spoken with Daniel Broderick about having Betty Broderick killed. Earley contends that Whelan also acted inappropriately in barring, from the second trial, testimony about Betty Broderick having been physically abused.
Earley has also been critical of Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells, who prosecuted Broderick in both trials. Wells recently accepted an undisclosed sum from a Hollywood studio, which paid her a consultant’s fee in connection with the second of two movies on the Broderick case produced for CBS.
On Friday, Wells declined to disclose the amount she was paid or comment on Earley’s charges of a conflict of interest on her part.
As for Betty Broderick, her once-high media profile has diminished somewhat, but despite being incarcerated, she made a recent appearance, via satellite , on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
She continues to maintain that she was driven to commit murder by the cruelty of her ex-husband and his second wife, and, according to friends and family members, has shown little or no remorse for the slayings.