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Broderick Daughter Tells of Death Wish : Courts: Betty Broderick intended to commit suicide after shooting her ex-husband and his new wife, but her gun ran out of bullets, daughter testifies.

October 22, 1991|MICHAEL GRANBERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The oldest daughter of Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick testified Monday that her mother told her she intended to commit suicide after shooting her ex-husband and his new wife, but that her .38-caliber pistol ran out of bullets.

Under cross-examination for the second day in her mother's second murder trial, Kim Broderick, 21, said that, in a phone conversation after the shootings, she remembered her mother being upset but not crying.

She also testified that she didn't remember any details of her mother's description of the Nov. 5, 1989, shooting deaths in which three out of five shots hit and fatally wounded Daniel T. Broderick III, 44, and Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28, in the bedroom of their Marston Hills home.

Last year, during the first trial that ended in a hung jury, Kim Broderick testified that her mother wept in telling her of the slayings and remarked that, upon being hit, Daniel Broderick muttered as his last words: "OK, you shot me. I'm dead."

Monday, Kim Broderick said she couldn't recall whether her mother ever disclosed such a remark and that she remembered only her mother's "shaking" voice.

"She wasn't crying in any of our phone calls," Kim Broderick said.

Much of defense attorney Jack Earley's cross-examination focused on apparent disparities between the first and second trials, drawing repeated objections from Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells.

The dispute triggered numerous side conversations among Wells, Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Burkahoff, Earley and Judge Thomas J. Whelan. The most compelling moments of Monday's testimony consisted, in fact, of sparring among the attorneys.

Afterward, Earley said it was "obvious" that Kim Broderick had been "coached" by Wells, or members of Daniel Broderick's family, and that several prosecution witnesses had altered testimony between the first and second trial, which began last week.

Previous testimony has indicated that Elisabeth Broderick often called her daughter a "traitor" after asking for her daughter's loyalty before and after the killings. But, unlike last year, Kim Broderick has remained calm and comparatively unemotional throughout the second trial.

She has cried only rarely and has yet to show the anger so apparent during last year's proceeding. Upon taking the stand Monday, she exchanged smiles with her mother.

After Monday's testimony, Earley said Kim Broderick's appearance seemed less an effort to ferret out the truth and more of a mission to "destroy" her mother.

"I don't know anyone who needs love like that," Earley said.

During the cross-examination, Earley asked Kim Broderick if she remembered her mother being upset after Daniel Broderick had once driven on rain-slicked streets, under the influence of alcohol, with several of his children as passengers.

"I remember her throwing a stereo at him," Kim Broderick said.

Earley asked if she remembered her father being convicted twice for driving under the influence.

"Mom told me," she said.

He asked if she remembered Daniel Broderick once dumping a pitcher of beer on Linda Kolkena Broderick, his second wife and former legal assistant, with whom he allegedly began an extramarital affair in 1983, two years before he left Kim's mother.

Before she could answer, prosecutor Wells objected, provoking a lengthy sidebar.

Earley also asked what Daniel Broderick was doing while the couple's son, Danny Broderick, who was then 11 years old, engaged in an emotional, 34-minute phone conversation, in which he begged his mother to stop using "bad words" and quit being so greedy.

Kim Broderick testified that, at the time, her father was in a separate room, hanging a light fixture. She conceded that he knew of the conversation, did nothing to stop it and even recorded it on an answering machine to use it in court during the couple's bitter divorce proceedings.

Under intense grilling from Earley, she said her father made no effort to stop the conversation, despite the boy's obvious anguish, because Daniel Broderick "didn't want to interfere" in the boy's conversations with his mother.

In other testimony, Beverly Hills divorce lawyer Daniel Jaffe--appearing as a prosecution witness--said he had signed a $10,000 retainer agreement with Elisabeth Broderick for the purpose of representing her in her divorce from Daniel Broderick.

But Jaffe said that, despite coming to terms with Daniel Broderick and his attorney, Thomas Ashworth, over the sale of the couple's home on Coral Reef Avenue on Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, Elisabeth Broderick refused to sign the paperwork that would have closed the deal.

Jaffe testified that she would have received half the sale price, plus $18,500, with portions of the latter being subject to further review by the court. Jaffe said he was never paid the retainer and thus never formally became Elisabeth Broderick's attorney.

He alluded to Elisabeth Broderick's "bizarre conduct," saying, "She didn't follow my advice. I didn't think she would follow anyone's advice. I felt she would have us in court . . . all the time."

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