The Robert Blake Murder Trial
The Robert Blake Murder Trial
Wife of actor Robert Blake feared for life before execution-style murder
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actor Robert Blake's wife, who was shot to death in their car, had a criminal history and any number of people could have "had it in for her," his lawyer said.
Blake's wife, identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office as Bonny Lee Bakley, 45, was shot late Friday as she sat in a car near an Italian restaurant in Studio City where she and Blake had eaten dinner. Blake's lawyer Harland Braun referred to her as Leebonny Bakley and gave her age as 44.
The couple married late last year after DNA tests showed Blake, star of the '70s television show "Baretta," was the father of her baby daughter, born last June. She lived in a unit behind Blake's home, Braun said, but the couple's relationship was improving.
Bakley had been on probation after being convicted in her home state of Arkansas of carrying a fake ID. Braun said the couple had signed a prenuptial agreement before their marriage earlier this year that stated Bakley couldn't engage in any criminal activity.
"Apparently she's had some criminal history," Braun said. "So it could be any number of people that had it in for her."
An autopsy report was expected to be released Monday.
Blake, 67, left a hospital on Sunday where he had sought treatment for high blood pressure, Braun said. "He's doing fine and has it under control," he said.
Police said Blake was not a suspect.
"He was interviewed like any witness would be interviewed, but he wasn't questioned," Lt. Don Hartwell told reporters. "He's a witness at this time."
Police recovered two 9 mm handguns and seized phone records and other paperwork from Blake's house during a Saturday search, Braun said. Police have interviewed Blake twice since the shooting, Braun added.
Bakley was shot once in the head while her husband returned to the restaurant to retrieve a handgun he had left behind. Blake had been carrying the gun because his wife feared for her life, Braun said. It was unclear who or what she was afraid of, he added.
"Murder is usually a highly motivated thing, but here we have a woman we don't know a lot about," Braun said. "Someone took that opportunity to kill her when Robert left the car. She was very vulnerable."
Bakley originally believed her 11-month-old daughter, Rose, was fathered by Christian Brando, the son of actor Marlon Brando, but tests showed she was Blake's. The younger Brando pleaded guilty in 1990 to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his sister's boyfriend.
When he announced the engagement in October, Blake said, "We'll just take off somewhere and get hitched. I'm not much for frills."
The baby was placed in the care of Blake's relatives.
Blake began his acting career at age 5, appearing in MGM's "Our Gang" series. He is best known for his Emmy-winning role as detective Tony Baretta in television's "Baretta."
Jury Selection to Begin in Blake Case
By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP
Robert Blake leaves the courthouse after a hearing in October.
LOS ANGELES (Nov. 15) - Defense attorneys for Robert Blake are looking for jurors who may be open to conspiracy theories. Prosecutors, on the other hand, want people who use common sense and make quick decisions.
More than three years after Blake's wife was shot to death outside a San Fernando Valley restaurant, the selection process for more than 100 potential jurors was to begin Monday in the actor's murder trial.
Jury consultant Richard Gabriel, president of Decision Analysis, said the defense would be looking for people who are "sensational minded."
"You want people who are open to alternative theories, people who are conspiracy theorists, people who will nit pick the evidence and create their own reasonable doubt," he said.
Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson said the ideal defense jurors would be people who "love a good whodunit and want to find their own solutions."
On the prosecution side, Gabriel, who is not working on the case, said: "They are looking for quick decision makers, conservative people who will use common sense."
Blake, former star of the "Baretta" TV series and the movie "In Cold Blood," is charged with murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, whom he married after DNA tests showed he was the father of her baby.
The 71-year-old actor has pleaded not guilty to murder, two counts of solicitation of murder and a special circumstance of lying in wait. Key witnesses are two elderly stuntmen who claim Blake asked them to murder his wife.
Bakley was killed on May 4, 2001, outside Vitello's restaurant where the couple had dined. Blake, who was not arrested until a year later, went to prison during his preliminary hearing. He was later released on $1.5 million bail and has been living under house arrest.
The trial is estimated to last about five months.
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