Tuesday, January 19, 2010
UPDATE: Elisabeth "Betty" Broderick has been denied parole for her conviction of fatally shooting her husband and his new wife. During the Jan. 21 hearing, which was heard two months earlier than originally scheduled, Broderick told the California parole board, "I allowed the voices in my head to completely take over. I took the lives of two wonderful people who were loved by many." After board members asked for details of the shooting in which Broderick shot the couple using a .38 caliber handgun, she told them, "Linda [the new wife] came at me and the gun went off." After the no-parole ruling, Richard Sachs, a San Diego prosecutor, told CNN that Broderick showed no remorse. The former socialite won't be eligible for parole again for another 15 years.
by Cathy Scott
It’s a new year and a new opportunity for La Jolla socialite Betty Broderick, who in 1989 murdered her ex-husband and his new wife by creeping into the couple’s bedroom before dawn and shooting them as they lay sleeping. Incarcerated since 1991, Betty is eligible for parole this March -- the first time since her second-degree murder conviction and sentence of 32 years to life in a California prison.
In March 1993, I wrote an op-ed piece about the case for the San Diego Union-Tribune. The column, below, is still relevant today:
A final chapter in the Broderick case
March 17, 1993
The never-ending saga of former La Jolla socialite Elisabeth "Betty" Broderick has again surfaced, but this time it's her children who are having the last word. And it is about time.
Three of the four Broderick children are taking their mother to court (Betty was served papers last week in prison). This is the same woman who murdered their father, garnering national attention and, at times, public sympathy after sneaking into her former husband's Marston Hills home and fatally shooting him and his wife in their bedroom. The nation watched the sickening tale unfold on television with Court TV's cable coverage of the trial, two made-for-TV movies, Oprah Winfrey interviews of two of the Broderick children and, on another occasion, Betty, not to mention newspaper accounts of the case. During Oprah's interview last November with Betty Broderick, the divorcée continued to weave the histrionic tale and sob story of a woman scorned. But this time the public knew better.
After all, with the advent of Court TV [now Tru TV], we were able to view her courtroom outbursts firsthand as the second trial aired in its entirety. Meanwhile, all has been quiet on the prison front where Broderick has been incarcerated since her murder conviction in 1991.
But now it's time for the Broderick children to have their day in court. After watching the film The Prince of Tides, I drew some obvious parallels between the fictional Wingo clan and the tragically real Broderick family.
In this motion picture about Tom Wingo and his twin sister trying to deal as adults with the effects of their highly dysfunctional childhoods, actor Nick Nolte says, "I don't know when my parents began their war against each other. But I do know the only prisoners they took were their children." The Broderick children, too, were sadly taken hostage by their parents' hatred for each other and the loathing their mother nurtured over the years for their father.
Besides the two shooting victims, attorney Dan Broderick and Linda Kolkena Broderick, the Broderick children have been horribly victimized. And like the Wingo children, they were dealt a dirty hand to sort out. At the end of The Prince of Tides, Nolte's character says, "I've learned to love my parents and all their hysterical flaws, and that there is no crime too bad that a family can't forgive."
There is, however, a crime the Broderick children can't ever forget, let alone forgive, and that's the cold-blooded murder of their father at the hands of their mother. Kim, the oldest of the Broderick children, who testified against her mother during the second trial, said it best when she told Oprah, "We've been gypped out of a nice life." Betty Broderick, in her most recent interview with Oprah, welled up with tears at the mere mention of her offspring, but shed no tears for Dan, and spoke of him in the present tense.
She referred to her children -- Kim, Lee, Dan and Rhett -- three of whom are grown, by their childhood nicknames of "Lee-Lee" and "Danny."
It's obvious that Broderick still won't let the memories of her self-described once "perfect life" die. Although Broderick seems to believe she is the sole victim in this tragic scenario, her children must live with the loss of their father and stepmother, and deal, at least on a minimal level, with their mother whose selfishness and blind greed forever took him away from them. But now the tables have turned, and Broderick is at her children's mercy. It seems only fitting that her ultimate punishment is at the hands of her offspring who, as she confessed to Oprah, hadn't once visited her in prison.
The reason, she explained, was that it's "a long, dangerous drive" to the Central Women's Facility in Chowchilla where she is serving a 32-year sentence. Despite the title of the CBS movie, "Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter," the last chapter in this sad saga appears to be the Broderick children's civil suit.
They will have the last word. Three of her four children (Kim, Dan and Rhett) are asking for more than $20 million dollars each in damages in a wrongful death suit against her. Broderick's attorney, Jack Earley, has stated that Broderick (who quitclaimed her La Jolla condo to her boyfriend) has no assets.
But with her penchant for publicity, she no doubt has a book or two in the making. Deputy District Attorney Kerry Wells, who successfully prosecuted Broderick, couldn't have said it better when she was quoted in the Nov. 2, 1992, issue of People magazine as saying, "I've had my fill of Elisabeth Broderick.
“She was not a battered woman.
“She was getting $16,000 a month alimony.
“She had a million-dollar La Jolla house, a car, a boyfriend.
“I see abused women every day with broken bones and smashed faces.
“Give me a break."
Photos courtesy of The Associated Press.