Actor Robert Blake to stand trial in wife's death...

  1. Judge rules Robert Blake to stand trial in wife's death
    Associated Press

    Published March 13, 2003

    LOS ANGELES -- A judge ruled Thursday that Robert Blake must stand trial on charges of murdering his wife, saying the actor ``had the time, the opportunity and the motive to commit the shooting.''

    Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash also said Blake could be released on $1.5 million bail, news that appeared to stun the 69-year-old actor who has been jailed since April.

    Blake's handyman-bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, will also be tried on a count of conspiracy in the slaying of Bonnie Lee Bakley, the judge ruled.

    The decisions followed a lengthy preliminary hearing that included veteran stuntmen testifying that Blake approached them about having his wife killed. Prosecutor Pat Dixon cited that testimony in his closing argument.

    ``The defendant's own words met our burden of proof in this case: He has repeatedly told people exactly what he was going to do and he carried it out and he did it and he had lots of motive for it,'' Dixon said.

    In addition to murder, Blake is charged with solicitation, conspiracy and a special circumstance of lying in wait. In his ruling, Nash cited the ``extreme hostility'' of Blake toward his wife.

    Blake's attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., said the prosecution hadn't shown Blake did it.

    ``All of this boils down to one fundamental problem with the prosecution's case: There is no evidence about what happened when Bonny Lee Bakley was shot,'' Mesereau argued.

    Bakley, 44, was gunned down as she sat in Blake's car outside his favorite neighborhood restaurant after dinner on May 4, 2001. Blake claims he found his wife shot after he went back into Vitello's restaurant to retrieve a handgun he carried for protection and had left behind.

    Blake, the 69-year-old former star of TV's ``Baretta,'' has been jailed since April.

    Prosecutors offered a largely circumstantial case built on testimony of three men who said he solicited them to ``whack,'' ``pop'' or ``snuff'' Bakley. Testimony about the actor's troubled marriage to a woman of dubious reputation was presented by detectives.

    Blake married Bakley after she gave birth to his daughter, Rosie. Witnesses suggested he wanted to keep the baby and get rid of his wife.

    During the hearing, prosecutors played a taped phone call in which Blake berated his wife for getting pregnant, telling her: ``You lied to me. You double-crossed me. You double-dealt me, and that's who you are.''

    On the tape, Bakley sniffled and cried as she insisted her only concern was to stay with Blake. He urged her to get an abortion, suggesting ``a pill from France.''

    There was scant physical evidence, including phone card records showing calls to the alleged would-be hitmen, records of Blake cashing checks totaling $126,000 months before the killing, the murder weapon that could not be tied to Blake and possible gunshot residue on his hands and clothes which was shown to be of doubtful origin.

    The defense countered by questioning police work. One detective admitted he brought an author to the crime scene and allowed him access to witnesses.

    The defense also attacked the credibility of the two stuntmen whose tales of being solicited for murder were the stuff of movie scripts. One witness had killed a man - in self-defense, he testified - and another used drugs and has a pending weapon-brandishing case.

    The conspiracy case against Caldwell was based largely on a crumpled shopping list of items found in his van which included the phrase ``get blank gun ready'' and listed items such as duct tape, shovels and a sledge and two e-mail messages to a girlfriend suggesting something was going to happen ``that could send me far away.''

    A computer expert said Caldwell's computers showed he searched Web sites on the subject of silencers. An expert testified that no silencer was used on the gun that killed Bakley.

    Caldwell's attorney, Arna Zlotnik, suggested he was looking up the 1966 Dean Martin movie ``The Silencers.''

    ``The evidence in this case, your honor, establishes that Mr. Caldwell is a handyman. He is a handyman who writes notes,'' Zlotnik said.
  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   emily_mom
    Aren't we full of news today...

    I'm glad this is finally going to trial. Pray it doesn't last as long as OJ's...
  4. by   deespoohbear
    Originally posted by emily_mom
    Aren't we full of news today...

    I'm glad this is finally going to trial. Pray it doesn't last as long as OJ's...
    Yep. Still sick and at home with nothing to do except surf the net. Otherwise I would be going crazy. Hope to return to work tomorrow. I have been on Keflex for 24 hours now so hopefully I will start seeing some improvement this evening.