SAN DIEGO — Over 30 years ago, Betty Broderick became a household name in San Diego and beyond as she went on trial for the double murder of her ex-husband and his new wife. Now, the former La Jolla socialite is once again in the spotlight with a new TV show and podcast dedicated to the story of her tumultuous divorce, subsequent crimes, and sensational trials.
On Tuesday, June 2 season two of the USA Network drama “Dirty John” premiered with the subtitle “The Betty Broderick Story.” Actress Amanda Peet, sporting blonde feathered hair, takes on the role of Betty while her victims Dan and Linda Broderick are played by Christian Slater and Rachel Keller respectively.
In one of several trailers for the show, Peet as Betty delivers charged lines like “I would have been treated better if I’d been a dog and served my master” while a well-groomed Christian Slater is shown flashing a handsome grin in their picture-perfect 1980s suburban home.
The first glimpses of the new show juxtapose Betty’s narrative of being cast aside for a younger woman and losing her children in a messy divorce with scenes of her perpetrating vandalism and violence - including driving her car into the front door of Dan's home.
As the tag line alludes to, the show looks to present that there are “two sides to every murder.” USA premiered two episodes of the new season Tuesday. The network also produced an eight-minute mini-documentary on Betty’s case for YouTube.
Also putting Betty Broderick back in the limelight is a new true crime podcast by the L.A. Times. “It Was Simple: The Betty Broderick Murders,” is a four-part series that debuted in late May. Hosted by Times' columnist Patt Morrison, the podcast features interviews with Betty’s divorce and defense attorneys, the foreman of the jury that convicted her, and others who were integral in the story over three decades ago.
And if all that coverage weren't enough, the Oxygen channel's series "Snapped" will tackle the Betty Broderick story with an episode premiering July 15. It will feature interviews with friends of Dan Broderick, one of Betty's attorneys and Loretta Schwartz-Nobel, the author of "Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story."
Of course, before Betty Broderick’s story was turned into true-crime entertainment, her story hit San Diego news in a huge way – and News 8’s archives have a wealth of clips to prove it.
Some who were riveted by Betty’s story sympathized with her tale of a jilted ex-wife forced to watch her husband move on with a younger bride. At both her murder trials – the first ending in a mistrial, the second her conviction – Betty portrayed herself as a victim of Dan and Linda’s cruel behavior. Others observing the events as they unfolded didn’t buy Betty’s story and to this day call for her to remain incarcerated for life. As of now, her next parole hearing is scheduled for 2032 when she will be 85 years old.
News 8’s archives hold dozens of videos on the Betty Broderick case. From the day of the murders through her trials and conviction, our reporters covered every aspect of Betty’s lurid story. In lieu of our typical News 8 Throwback piece this week, we present some of the clips from the late 1980s and early 1990s that weave together the story of a Betty Broderick’s path from suburban housewife and socialite to convicted double murderer.
The day of the murders
Dan and Linda Broderick were found dead in their San Diego home on Nov. 5, 1989. News 8’s Lorraine Kimel reported from the scene of the double murder as Dan’s ex-wife Betty Broderick was wanted for questioning. Lorraine spoke with friends and colleagues of Dan who were shocked and saddened by the shocking news.
Betty Broderick takes the stand at first murder trial
Betty Broderick first went on trial in October 1990 in San Diego for the murders. In both of the trials against her, Betty took the stand in her own defense. This collection of clips shows some of the things Betty testified to in the first trial in 1990 – painting her ex-husband as controlling and claiming she had no financial means after they divorced. Betty testified about the day of the murder saying she did not remember pulling the trigger and firing the five shots that resulted in the deaths of Dan and Linda.
Betty Broderick’s children, friend testify
Also, at the first trial, Betty's daughters – the eldest of her four children with Dan – took the stand. Kim, 20, and Lee, 19, testified about their parents’ relationship and what their mom said to them after the murders. A friend of Betty’s also testified about the defendant’s personality and her obsession with money - “she’s real close to money, she worshiped money,” the woman said on the stand calling Betty “very materialistic.”
Betty smiles as she's convicted of second-degree murder as second trial
The second trial of Betty Broderick ended in a verdict that stirred mixed emotions for many. News 8’s Chris Saunders reported on Dec. 10, 1991, as the once San Diego socialite sat with a smile as she was found guilty of second-degree murder. Five of the 12 jurors spoke with reporters, including News 8’s Marianne Kushi, following the verdict about how their deliberations went and how the case affected them.
Before Amanda Peet was cast in "Dirty John", Meredith Baxter took on the role of Betty Broderick
“Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story” isn’t the first time the story is being dramatized for the small screen. As Betty Broderick was being convicted in her second trial, a television movie was being made about the compelling case. Meredith Baxter spoke with News 8 about what had led her to the project, which was then titled “’Til Murder Do Us Part.” Baxter went on to be nominated for an Emmy Award for what became a two-part TV film – part one was called “A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story” and part two released in 1992 was titled “Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter.”