- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert Blake’s prosecutor and defense attorney differed yesterday over whether the actor killed wife Bonny Lee Bakley, but agreed that the couple’s marriage was not a Hollywood-style love match.

“It wasn’t a marriage off a Hollywood set. It wasn’t about love of each other,” Mr. Blake’s attorney told the jury. “For Robert, it was about love for a child. For Bonny, it was about love of being married to a celebrity.”

Defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach, answering an impassioned opening statement by prosecutor Shellie Samuels, dismissed her claim that Mr. Blake killed his wife to rescue his baby daughter, Rosie, from a future with Mrs. Bakley and from relatives he believed disreputable.

“It’s true that Mr. Blake told people that the first time he laid eyes on Rosie he knew it was his baby,” Mr. Schwartzbach said. “It is true he was over the moon about that child, and he continues to be so. That’s not a crime.”

Both sides focused on circumstances surrounding the marriage and leading up to the murder mystery.

“It was a marriage of convenience that worked for both of them,” Mr. Schwartzbach said.

The prosecutor disagreed, exclaiming at one point, “He hated her, he hated her.” Miss Samuels said that Mr. Blake killed Mrs. Bakley when two stuntmen he purportedly solicited to carry out the crime refused to do it.

Testimony was expected to begin today after the defense finished its opening statements. Mr. Blake, 71, showed no emotion during the prosecution’s opening statements.

The opening arguments came 3 years after Mrs. Bakley, 44, was shot in the actor’s car after they dined at his favorite restaurant on May 4, 2001, in the Studio City section of Los Angeles.

Mr. Blake, star of the “Baretta” TV series and the 1967 movie “In Cold Blood,” first met Bakley in a bar and married her after tests showed he was the father of her baby, Rosie, now 4.

Using video and audio recordings of Mr. Blake in jail, Miss Samuels said the actor wanted Mrs. Bakley to have an abortion and never wanted to marry her, but then campaigned to keep her away from Rosie, who is being raised by Mr. Blake’s adult daughter, Delinah.

Mr. Schwartzbach attacked a key element of the case — the claim that Mr. Blake personally shot his wife.

“There is no scientific evidence — no DNA, no hairs or fibers, no fingerprints,” he told the jury.

“Without evidence to support the charge, the prosecution has built its case on the backs of two men who were addicted to illegal drugs at the time they met Mr. Blake — one addicted to cocaine, the other addicted to methamphetamine,” he said.

He said the stuntmen, Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton and Gary McLarty, both have experienced “auditory and visual hallucinations. They’ve heard voices, they’ve seen things and events that never occurred.”

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