Dirty John shock: Devastating reason behind Betty Broderick’s smile during murder trial

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‘Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story’ was recently released on Netflix and has already split viewers across the nation. The true case behind the TV adaptation similarly divided America – as some considered her a vicious murderer, while others thought she broke after years of mental torment. On the night of the killings, Broderick broke into the home of ex-husband Dan and his new wife Linda Kolkena while they slept. She claimed to not remember firing her gun but could recall five “pops”, which killed the lovers. During her trial, details of Broderick’s excessive expenditure, bitter child custody case and alleged mental abuse on both sides of her case emerged. 

Before the killings, Dan and Betty Broderick’s divorce in 1989 became known as one of the messiest courtroom clashes in California.

She was paid a hefty £6,800 ($9,000) per month in alimony payments but her ex-husband kept custody of their children, which she deeply resented.

They split-up shortly after Broderick discovered Dan was having an affair with Linda, a “young and attractive” air stewardess he hired as a paralegal, shortly before his 40th birthday. 

In an act of revenge, she made a bonfire with his clothes and burned them in the backyard after she felt she had been the “perfect wife”. 

Before the affair, Broderick had taken care of their four children and worked multiple jobs to keep the family’s finances afloat while her husband studied law shortly after he qualified as a doctor. 

A number of heated exchanges between the pair led Dan to avoid picking-up her phone calls and after she heard his new wife’s voice on their voice message she exploded with anger.

In one of multiple threatening calls – this one dubbed “tame” by prosecutors at her 1990 trial – she said: “I have very important things to ask you, you’re making me mad – I’ll kill you!”

She also regularly referred to Dan’s new wife as a “b****”, which upset her children, one of whom was allegedly dared to leave his father an angry answerphone message. 

When challenged by her children about the expletive-laden calls, Broderick said: “He’s absolute scum. He’s cheated and lied and f***ed around. 

“You have no reason to be mad at me. I didn’t cause any of this. Daddy and the b**** caused all of this.”

During her trial for the killings on November 9, 1989, she claimed to have been mentally abused by her husband and argued that his actions spurred on her violent outbursts.  

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One saw her attempt to drive her car through the front door of his new home, while her children were inside the house.

When the prosecution argued that Dan was terrified of her because she “constantly threatened his life”, Broderick responded: “Why would he be afraid of me?”

In October 1990, during the third week of her trial, she briefly smiled within the proceedings after her friend made a flattering comment about the couple’s appearance.

According to CBS 8 San Diego, they said: “She and Dan looked like they belonged on top of a wedding cake.”

The defendant, who stared down with her head propped-up on her left fist, momentarily beamed in response to the comment and blinked multiple times – likely able to recall happier memories of their time together. 

Broderick was sentenced to between 32 years and life in prison after she was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder.

She has made three failed appeals against the court’s verdict and will next be allowed to protest her case before a judge in 2032.

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