One-time San Diego socialite Betty Broderick on Thursday was denied parole for fatally shooting her ex-husband and his new wife more than 20 years ago, with a two-person panel saying she remains angry and unrepentant over her crime.
The decision came after a dramatic five-hour hearing in which Broderick's own four children were divided on whether she should win her freedom. Two believed she should remain behind bars.
Board of Prison Terms Commissioner Robert Doyle, who delivered the decision to Broderick, told her he had never seen an inmate who had made so little progress in acknowledging what she had done.
"Your heart is still bitter, and you are still angry," he said. "You show no significant progress in evolving. You are still back 20 years ago in that same mode. You've got to move on."
Broderick, 62, was convicted in 1991 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 32 years to life in prison for the slayings. Her story became the subject of a book and two TV movies. She has maintained she was driven to kill by a bitter divorce and custody battle.
Deputy Commissioner Carol Bentley echoed her colleague's concerns, saying Broderick could commit murder again if she was released.
The denial was for the longest term possible — 15 years — although Broderick could reapply in three years if she makes progress.
'I couldn't let them win'
Broderick, who wore a long pink sweat shirt over navy pants, delivered a rambling commentary during the hearing. She claimed she didn't intend to kill anyone when she went to the San Diego home of her prominent lawyer ex-husband, Daniel Broderick III, and shot the couple in their bed in 1989. But she said she had violent thoughts as she approached the home.
"I had one choice: to shoot them or myself," Broderick recalled thinking. "I couldn't let them win."
Betty married Daniel Broderick in 1969, and they had four children. In the late 1980s, Daniel began an affair with another woman, Linda Kolkena Broderick, whom he eventually married. His divorce battle with Betty lasted four years.
Betty Broderick told the board her "whole world fell off its axis" when her husband left her and won custody of the children.
"I couldn't get a settlement, and I couldn't get the kids," she said. "... I allowed the voices in my head to completely take over."
Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs, who spoke on behalf of the San Diego County district attorney's office, said Betty Broderick's motivation was clearly anger at her husband for leaving her.
"This was a cold dish of revenge that was served," Sachs said.
Portrayed as the victim
At her trial, Betty Broderick admitted firing the gun that killed her 44-year-old ex-husband and his new wife. She portrayed herself as the victim of a heartless man who discarded her for a younger, slimmer woman, then used his legal skills and clout with the local judiciary to gain unfair advantages in the divorce and child custody cases.
Broderick said she bombarded him with obscene telephone calls, smearing a Boston cream pie on his clothes and driving her truck through his front door.
It took two trials to convict her. The first ended in a hung jury, and the foreman was quoted as saying of the shootings: "We just wonder why it took her so long."
Kathy Lee Broderick, 38, said at the parole hearing she wanted her mother to come live with her, even though she still misses her father.
"She should be able to live her later life outside prison walls," she said.
However, her younger brother, Dan Broderick, 33, said his mother was "hung up on justifying what she did."
"In my heart, I know my mother is a good person," he said. "But along the way she got lost. Releasing a lost person into society could be a dangerous mistake."