The prosecutor in the murder trial of Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick has received a letter from the younger brother of Daniel T. Broderick III, suggesting ways of ensuring a conviction with a "less than middle class" jury of "less than average intelligence."
Denver businessman L.G. (Larry) Broderick says in the letter that a group of Daniel Broderick's friends and relatives, including at least one prominent San Diego attorney, met and provided suggestions for prosecuting Elisabeth Broderick the "second time around."
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday November 9, 1991 San Diego County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 2 Metro Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Broderick letter--A headline in Friday's paper incorrectly identified the profession of L.G. (Larry) Broderick, brother of slaying victim Daniel T. Broderick III. He is a businessman.
Her attorney said the letter supports the defense contention that the legal community is stacked against her.
"I would think anyone in the legal community would be totally outraged by this," defense attorney Jack Earley said. "I would think the community would be outraged enough to want to do something, outraged enough to want to investigate. Each of these lawyers is a prominent member of the Bar."
According to the letter, David Monahan, a San Diego lawyer and close friend of Daniel Broderick, sent "transcripts of Elizabeth's ( sic ) testimony (from the first trial) to several of Dan's family and friends, soliciting comments."
"Since that time, we have had a couple of meetings and much telephone conversation about what suggestions we might offer you" in prosecuting the second trial, the letter says.
"While the words are mine," Broderick writes, "they represent the consensus view of the group."
Several prominent San Diego attorneys acknowledged having discussed legal tactics with each other and with Larry Broderick but denied having a hand in the letter, which is dated June 21, 1991, and lists six attorneys as receiving copies. All are members of the San Diego County Bar Assn., of which Daniel Broderick was a past president.
The letter, which was sent to The Times anonymously, cites ways that the case "might be better prosecuted the second time around," even if it means introducing "hearsay and inadmissible" evidence and letting a "parade" of witnesses "ramble on."
"Make the defense object," the letter says. "Make the court rule in their favor. Part of each anecdote or story will find it's ( sic ) way into the minds of the jury."
The letter also recommends that Deputy Dist. Atty. Kerry Wells have Daniel and Elisabeth Broderick's two sons, Danny, 15, and Rhett, 12, testify near the end of the trial "to have the greatest possible lasting impact on the jury." Neither boy testified in the first trial.
Elisabeth Broderick is accused of murdering her ex-husband and his wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28, in the bedroom of their Marston Hills home on the morning of Nov. 5, 1989. The prosecution is seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Last year, Broderick's first trial ended in a hung jury, with 10 jurors favoring a murder conviction and two holding out for manslaughter. The defense contends that Elisabeth Broderick, frustrated by divorce and custody problems, intended only to kill herself.
Attorneys mentioned in the letter agreed Thursday that they have had conversations with Larry Broderick and other family members--and that legal strategies have been discussed--but they denied being part of an organized effort.
"Why don't you ask Larry what he means by the letter?" David Monahan said. "Whatever implications you draw are the ones you draw. There's no group. That's ridiculous. But we'd all like to see justice done--very, very much."
Larry Broderick could not be reached for comment.
But defense attorney Earley said Thursday that the letter supports Elisabeth Broderick's contention that her ex-husband, a prominent medical malpractice attorney, used his "considerable influence" in a divorce and custody battle that raged on for years.
Earley said that "11 of the 12 suggestions mentioned in the letter have already been followed," the exception being the testimony of Danny and Rhett. Both have been subpoenaed and may still testify.
Among the suggestions in the letter was that Wells not prosecute the case alone in the second trial. A second attorney has been added in the courtroom.
Earley said it was "utterly inappropriate" to "coach witnesses on how to do illegal things. It's one thing to instruct witnesses on how to bring forth the best information, but to do it knowing it's inadmissible . . . is reprehensible."
Prosecutor Wells, whose illness forced the postponement of the Broderick trial Thursday, could not be reached for comment.
Linda Miller, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County district attorney, said Wells and Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Burakoff, who are acting as co-prosecutors, "believe it would be unethical for them to discuss anything like this."
"You should know that it's not unusual to get unsolicited letters, especially from friends and family members of crime victims. But it has absolutely no impact on our prosecution."