- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) Two stuntmen who worked with Robert Blake on the "Baretta" television series are expected to testify that he tried to hire them to kill his wife, Mr. Blake's attorney said yesterday.
Gary McLarty and Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton will probably be key witnesses in Mr. Blake's murder trial, according to attorney Harland Braun and another source close to the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"The problem with these witnesses is, if this is true, why didn't they call the police?" Mr. Braun asked. "Often these kinds of witnesses have some problem in their history or they want to jump on a big case to be in the spotlight."
In 1991, Mr. McLarty killed a houseguest in a shooting that was ruled justifiable self-defense. Authorities said the dead man, Donald Deppe, 50, was an ex-convict with a history of violent assaults and had threatened Mr. McLarty.
Mr. Braun is familiar with Mr. McLarty from another high-profile Hollywood case: the 1982 deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two children in an accident on a "Twilight Zone" movie set.
Mr. McLarty, the stunt coordinator for the film, was a witness in the ensuing involuntary manslaughter trial. Mr. Braun was a defense attorney.
Prosecutors have said Mr. Blake asked two other persons to kill Bonny Lee Bakley last year before doing it himself. They have not identified the two and Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, declined to comment yesterday on the names of the witnesses.
Mr. Blake was formally charged Monday with shooting to death Mrs. Bakley, 44, after a dinner outing last May. Prosecutors said the 68-year-old Blake and his bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, plotted the slaying for about four months.
Mr. Blake is also charged with solicitation of murder, conspiracy and the special circumstance of lying in wait, which gives prosecutors the option of seeking a death sentence. That decision has not been announced in Mr. Blake's case.
Mr. Caldwell, 46, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
According to the source close to the case, Mr. Hambleton approached Mr. Blake last year and asked if they could get together and do a movie. He was part of a group called Stunts Unlimited and wanted to do an action movie.
Mr. Blake told Mr. Hambleton he could not get involved in a movie deal because he was distracted by his involvement with Mrs. Bakley and the birth of their child, the source said.
Court records show Mr. Hambleton is facing three counts of exhibiting a firearm and one count of resisting a police officer for a 1999 incident in Victorville, Calif.

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