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It’s been 30 years since Betty Broderick was convicted of shooting her ex-husband and his younger new bride to death in their bedroom, but she won’t be getting out of prison any time soon.
Betty was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison in 1991 for the slayings of ex-husband Dan Broderick, 44, a well-known San Diego attorney, and his wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28.
Although the now 73-year-old has appeared before the parole board on two different occasions, the board has opted to deny her release and keep Betty—whose case received national attention and earned the support of fellow scorned wives—behind bars.
Betty won’t be eligible for parole again until 2032, when she’ll be 84 years old, KFMB reports.
While Betty has never denied pulling the trigger, she’s maintained that she carried out the double murder after suffering severe emotional and psychological abuse during an acrimonious divorce battle following 16 years of marriage.
Her story is retold in “Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story” now available on Netflix, starring Amanda Peet and Christian Slater, as the bitter couple. Broderick was also the subject of an episode of Oxygen's "Snapped."
Betty and Dan once appeared to be the perfect pair after meeting just after her 18th birthday while she was on a chaperoned football weekend at the University of Notre Dame—where Dan was a senior, The Los Angeles Times reported in 1990.
Betty returned to New York after the weekend, but the couple reconnected the next year when Dan moved to New York to begin medical school at Cornell University.
“He was very ambitious, very intelligent and very funny. And I am those three things. We were from the same kind of background. We both wanted the same things in the future,” she told The Los Angeles Times of the couple's desire to find success and start a large family. “He promised me the moon. The guy asked me to marry him every day for three years.”
Betty eventually relented and the pair were married in an elaborate ceremony in 1969. While Dan finished his schooling—first in medical school and then earning a law degree from Harvard—Betty worked to support the family and care for the couple’s growing brood.
The family ultimately relocated to Southern California so that Dan could begin his successful career as a medical malpractice attorney.
The couple was soon a regular part of the elite social scene—becoming members of both the La Jolla Country Club and the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club.
Betty no longer had to scrimp and save for her growing family, as she enjoyed their growing wealth and the lavish life it afforded them while she stayed home and raised the couple’s four children.
But the marriage would soon begin to crumble.
“She was never happy with me,” Dan told The San Diego Reader before his death, quickly adding “That is an exaggeration. It wasn’t true that she was never happy with me. There were periods of time when she was. But on a regular basis, she expressed extreme unhappiness with me, and my dedication to my work, and my profession, and my attitude toward her and our children.”
The rift between the couple only grew when Betty discovered he had been having an affair with his legal assistant Linda Kolkena, who some described as a much younger version of Betty herself.
“He literally walked out three months after his 40th birthday party — with a red Corvette and a 21-year-old. Are we the American joke or not? If you weren’t my husband, I’d think you were real funny,” Betty later told The San Diego Reader. “He’s got a scarf around his neck, and he wanted those Ray-Ban sunglasses from ‘Risky Business.’ I said, ‘You’re it! You’re it! You are the cover of Midlife Crisis magazine. Cool, Dan. Cool.’”
As Dan moved on with his new love, Betty retaliated in anger, leaving expletive-filled rants on his answering machine, smearing a Boston crème pie on all his belongings and even driving her vehicle through the new couple’s front door.
Dan and Linda only seemed to stoke the rage, taking money from Betty’s monthly allowance for her violent outbursts, having her arrested, and relying on Dan’s own legal prowess to manipulate her in the courtroom.
Then on Nov. 5, 1989 Betty stole her daughter’s key to Dan’s house, crept into the home and shot her ex-husband and his new wife as they slept in their bed.
“Ok, you shot me. I’m dead,” Dan allegedly said before he died, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The sensational case would bring with it a media firestorm. While some saw her as nothing more than a calculated killer, others saw her as an unsung hero of sorts for scorned women everywhere. Her first trial resulted in a hung jury, but Betty would be convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in a second trial in 1991.
Betty remains behind bars today.
Her four children appear to be split on how their mother should live out her remaining years.
Her youngest son, Rhett, said on “The Oprah Show” that he hoped his mother would one day be released.
“She’s a nice lady,” he said. “Everyone here would like her ... if they spoke with her on any topic other than my dad. Keeping her in prison isn’t really helping her. She’s not a danger to society — the only two people she was a danger to are dead.”
Her son Daniel, however, told a parole board in 2010 that he felt his mother was still “hung up” on justifying the double murder, CBS News reported.
"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."
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