Perception is Reality
S2 episode 8 Aired on July 14, 2020

In “Perception Is Reality,” episode 208 of Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, Betty’s on trial not once, but twice. Though she’s bolstered by the outcome of the first trial as well as the support from her “fans” thanks to all the publicity her trial has gotten, Betty soon sees that the second trial may not go like the first.

Hung Jury

During Betty’s first trial, the prosecutor tries to paint the picture of Betty as an irresponsible mother who was only concerned with money. But what the prosecutor doesn’t do is grill Betty about what happened when she was in Dan’s bedroom that fateful night. That misstep bungles her argument that the murders were premeditated. The jury comes back deadlocked and the trial ends in a mistrial. During interviews of some jurors afterwards, it becomes evident that a few were sympathetic to Betty’s plight, as were many women across the country who had been following the news coverage and sending her fan mail. As one letter read, “There are many people who do not consider you ‘crazy.’ But who do understand the possibility of being driven off balance….” 

The Fame Game

While Betty awaits her second trial, media interest in her case continues to grow. Her lawyer, Jack, cautions against getting too excited that the second trial will be like the first or that her press interviews will sway the next jury. The prosecutor won’t make the same tactical error twice, he tells her, so Betty should comb through the transcripts from the first trial just as the prosecutor is surely doing.

“Hate became her life.”

The tone of the second trial is different from the jump, with the prosecutor depicting Betty as a scorned woman filled with hate who couldn’t put her anger behind her. To prove her argument, she trots out Betty’s now former friends. On the stand, they pile onto that depiction by saying how Betty worshipped money, how much she verbalized her hatred of Dan and Linda, including in front of the kids, and how she’d even use the word “kill” in reference to Dan. Janet is the only one who supports Betty by describing her as a dedicated and loving mother. Samantha then speaks to Betty’s ongoing depression, which helps Jack make his case that Betty’s original intent was to go to the beach to shoot herself that night.

Cross-Examined

But upon Betty’s cross-examination, the prosecutor zeroes in on the night in question and surfaces small but meaningful details that don’t track with Betty’s testimony about how she was so overwhelmed that night that she hadn’t been in control of her actions or remember what she had done. Through a flashback during the closing arguments, we finally get to see what took place in that room. 

Betty’s Fate Is Sealed

After what later reported as a very heated deliberation, the jury comes back with a guilty verdict of second-degree murder on both counts. During the sentencing, the judge points not only to the evidence of Betty pointing her gun at both victims, but also her pulling the phone out of the wall and carrying it out into the hallway, thereby displaying “a high degree of callousness.” He sentences her to fifteen year to life for each count to be served consecutively.

“Until the twelfth of never”

From prison, Betty reminisces about her and Dan during a phone call with a journalist. In her mind, she replays all the moments she could’ve chosen to do something different instead of letting Dan hurt her or get the best of her—including perhaps not even agreeing to marry him. But…she didn't. Into the phone, she croons a song that she and Dan used to dance to, which ends with “Until the twelfth of never, I’ll still be loving you.”