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The Deadly Divorce of Dan and Betty Broderick

by Bella Stumbo

Pub Date: July 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-72666-8
Publisher: Pocket

Richly researched, gripping story of a castoff San Diego wife who shot and killed her ex-husband and his new wife one morning in 1989 while they lay asleep. Debut author Stumbo (a Los Angeles Times reporter) makes no pleas but shows that well-spoken, well-read Betty Broderick was so beaten with betrayal by her husband that her present 30-year sentence is probably unjust. Betty and Dan endured nine pregnancies that produced four children, and Betty bonded to Dan all the way, sharing his obsession with getting a legal degree for himself, on top of his medical degree, so that he could reap millions as a medical-malpractice lawyer. This took big sacrifices: Betty was not only a mother machine and superwife but she also did extra jobs to support the family while Dan got his second degree at Harvard, fraternized with future business ties, and kept himself in brilliant plumage. Stumbo follows the Brodericks through their rise from poverty to high fashion in La Jolla, and she captures Betty's disbelief when, after 16 years of marriage, Dan fell for ``teenaged office bimbo'' Linda Kolkena. Dan denied the affair for two years while setting up house with Linda and giving her a fancy office as his paralegal. When Dan moved out, Betty's whole nature changed as she became foul-mouthed, burned all of Dan's suits, drove her car through the front door of his new house, and harassed him endlessly—all of which helped Dan win a no-fault divorce and the kids. Greedy but 'borderline hysteric' Betty grew ever battier as years went by, and finally killed Dan and Linda. Her first trial ended in a hung jury, but the second convicted her—of murder in the second degree. The white male power structure that defends Dan, his divorce rulings, and his silver-tongued but hard-drinking selfishness gets a rough going over here. You do begin to see Betty's side of things. Bang bang.