The former sister-in-law of the late Daniel Broderick has been granted permanent custody of his two teen-age sons, a San Diego County Family Court judge has ruled.
Danny and Rhett Broderick, the sons of Daniel and Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick, had been living with Daniel Broderick's brother Larry and sister-in-law Kathy at the time Betty Broderick shot her husband and his new wife at their home Nov. 5, 1989.
Larry and Kathy Broderick have since divorced. Kathy, who lives in Englewood, Colo., was granted permanent guardianship at the closed court hearing Thursday.
Betty Broderick was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison in a case that attracted wide publicity because it seemed to strike a chord with scores of divorced women who claimed abuse by their husbands.
Daniel and Betty Broderick, who had been married for 16 years, had four children. Kimberly, 22, and Lee, 20, their two oldest, were not part of the custody proceedings because they are adults.
Betty Broderick, who attended Thursday's hearing, asked that either of her two older brothers be given custody of Danny, 15, and Rhett, 13, because they had promised the boys a college education and a stable home life.
"She has grave concerns about the ruling but believes that, hopefully, everyone will put aside their differences and do what's in the best interest of the children," said Jack Earley, Broderick's attorney.
"Hopefully, whatever feelings Kathy has for Betty will not be transferred to the children," Earley said. "After all, Betty is still their mother."
Jeff Mangum, an attorney for Kathy Broderick, said the boys will be provided college educations and live "in a stable and loving home." He said he could not comment further because the court ordered the proceedings sealed some time ago.
Betty Broderick was sentenced Feb. 7 to serve a prison term of 32 years to life after two highly publicized and lengthy trials, the first of which ended in a deadlock. While 10 jurors wanted a murder conviction, two others opted for manslaughter.
After the second trial, jurors reached a verdict on second-degree murder, rejecting prosecutors' claims that Broderick had planned the killings and should be convicted of first-degree murder.
Broderick testified at her second trial that she sought only to confront Broderick and his wife of six months when she sneaked into the house before dawn. But she said she fired five shots from a .38-caliber revolver when she heard Linda Broderick yell for someone to call the police and saw Daniel Broderick reach for a telephone.
She had planned to confront her ex-husband about divorce and custody issues, she said.