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Betty Broderick Confesses to S.D. Slayings

Times Staff Writer

Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick on Tuesday confessed to killing her ex-husband and his new young wife last November, describing the slayings as a “desperate act of self-defense” against a man who wanted “to control me totally.”

In an interview with The Times, the 42-year-old mother of four said she did not plan to kill Daniel T. Broderick III, 44, and his 28-year-old wife, Linda, in the early morning hours on Sunday, Nov. 5.

“I had just bought about $400 worth of groceries on Saturday,” she said, speaking from a public telephone at the Las Colinas jail for women. “I bought fresh veal and swordfish and all this wonderful stuff. Do you think I knew? I had no idea I was going to do this at all. I didn’t know I was doing it.”

But late Saturday night, Betty had trouble sleeping. She went to the kitchen of her La Jolla home and reread some legal papers she had received Friday from Daniel, a prominent San Diego malpractice attorney. The papers said she was in contempt of court because she had left vulgar messages on Daniel and Linda’s telephone answering machine.

“I knew I couldn’t win,” said Betty, who had been negotiating with Daniel to gain custody of their two younger children, Danny, 14, and Rhett, 11. Her other two children are daughters Lee, 18, and Kimberly, 20.

So, Betty said, she got dressed, got in her car and started driving.

“When I left my house, I didn’t know where I was going,” she said. “Sometimes I would go down to the 7-Eleven at La Jolla Shores and get a half chocolate-half coffee and go down and walk on the beach. I thought maybe I would do that. But then I didn’t. I went to his house.”

Daniel and Linda lived in Marston Hills, not far from downtown San Diego, and, on that Sunday morning, their house was locked up tight. But Betty had a ring of keys that her maid had found behind a chair in her house. According to testimony at her preliminary hearing, they were her daughter Kimberly’s keys, and one of them fit Daniel’s door.

Betty climbed the stairs to the bedroom.

“It was dark in there,” she said, although she remembers the sun was up. “Looking back, either I was kooked, or they must have had the drapes closed.”

She said she started firing her .38-caliber, five-shot revolver, but she wasn’t sure if she’d hit anyone.

“It was such a panicked thing. It was never a thing where I even aimed. I pulled (the trigger) real fast--no hesitation at all,” she said.

Then Daniel spoke.

“He didn’t say, ‘You shot me,’ ” she said, correcting her daughters’ testimony at her preliminary hearing last week. “He said, ‘OK, OK, you got me.’ There was no pain and there was no blood. It was simple.”

She had emptied her gun, shooting Linda twice, in the head and chest, and Daniel once in the back. Another bullet struck the wall, police say, and a fifth hit a bedside table.

“I had no bullets or anything, and I just had to get out of there,” she said. Then she saw Daniel. “He was on the floor, and the phone was right next to him. I thought, ‘Oh, my God! He is going to be on that phone before I’m down the stairs.’ ”

She pulled the phone out of the wall and fled.

Betty’s statements confirmed testimony heard last week at her preliminary hearing. At the 1 1/2-day hearing, her two daughters and two friends testified that Betty had admitted shooting Daniel and Linda.

Betty and Daniel had divorced in 1986, after 16 years of marriage. Since then, they had fought constantly--inside and outside the courts. Betty accused Daniel of using his legal influence to cheat her out of her fair share of his seven-figure income. She was appealing her $16,100-a-month settlement at the time of the killings. Daniel had told friends that Betty would not dare kill him because he was her “golden goose.”

“I am not going to turn around and say someone else did it, or I didn’t do it,” she said. “My lawyers hate it because there is no law that says I can defend myself against his type of onslaught. (But) he was killing me.”

She added, “It was sick of him to always want to control me so totally. He held on to those kids, and he refused to settle the money. I was tied to him. Just let me go!

“If someone had told me that morning what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed them,” she said, adding that she is tired of hearing people mourn Daniel and Linda.

“It always makes me mad when people call them the victims. Me and my kids were the victims. There are two dead people, but there were five victims,” she said, referring to herself and her four children.

Betty, who has pleaded not guilty to the slayings, is scheduled to be arraigned in San Diego Superior Court on Tuesday.

Betty said she doesn’t remember everything that happened that morning. She can’t recall driving from her home to Daniel and Linda’s, for example, and she has no memory of fleeing from Daniel’s home to a telephone booth in Clairemont, where she called a friend.

She does remember how depressed she felt.

“I am tall, 5-foot-10 1/2 (inches), but if you measured me that day, I felt 5-foot-6,” she said. She claimed that Daniel had provoked her into leaving the obscene messages by putting Linda’s voice on the answering machine. She believed the legal papers meant Daniel was going to have her jailed, as he had once before after she rammed her car into the front door of his home.

“I had just accepted a job at (a) greeting card company,” she said. In order to save money, she was selling her house and moving into a less expensive condominium, she recalled. “I was making strides. I had this all figured out. . . . I was cruising, and now he was going to knock me down again. I just couldn’t stand it again.”

And yet, although she said she had been suicidal for two years, at some point that morning she rejected the idea of suicide. She had tried it before, attempting to slit her wrists on Nov. 7, 1983--her 36th birthday--when she suspected that Daniel was having an affair with his office assistant, Linda Kolkena. Daniel and Linda were married in April, 1989.

“I swore to myself, ‘I’m not going to do it again’ because that’s what he wanted,” she said.

“I still wish I had” committed suicide, she said.


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