Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Los Angeles A retired stuntman who claims Robert Blake tried to have his wife killed testified Tuesday that Blake wanted to be there when the slaying took place and wasn't worried about police questions because "I'm an actor."
Ronald Hambleton took the stand at a preliminary hearing on whether there is enough evidence to try Blake on murder charges in the slaying of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, who was shot in a car after the couple dined at a restaurant in 2001.
The former "Baretta" star claims he found his wife shot after he returned to Vitello's restaurant to retrieve a gun he had accidentally left behind.
"When defendant Blake was talking about the various scenarios under which Ms. Bakley might get killed, did he say anything about whether he had to be present or not?" prosecutor Greg Dohi asked Hambleton.
"He never said anything about that he had to be present, but every scenario always included his presence," Hambleton said.
"When you talked about his presence, where would he have to be?" Dohi asked.
"Right there on the spot," Hambleton said.
"When the killing actually happened?" Dohi asked.
"That is correct," the witness said.
Hambleton is one of three witnesses at the hearing who have testified that the actor solicited the killing of Bakley, whom he had recently married after she had a daughter by him.
The prosecution focused on Hambleton's testimony about a scenario involving Vitello's restaurant.
"In general it was either he was going to be in an automobile with Miss Bakley or he was going to be walking from his residence to the restaurant with Miss Bakley and somewhere en route or wherever he parked the vehicle, he felt that that would be an ideal place to take care of the situation," Hambleton said.
The witness said the first thing that came to mind when Blake proposed the scenarios was what Blake would be doing.
"I asked him specifically, 'What are your plans if somebody is going to be, if you will, mugging your wife and you have a gun permit, carrying a .38, what exactly is going to be your participation?"' Hambleton said.
"He didn't have too much to say about that and I said, 'Well, you know the cops will have you right there on the spot asking you questions.' And his response to that is, 'Don't worry about that, I'm an actor."'
He said Blake viewed Bakley "as being scandalous in nature" and was worried that if she gained custody of their daughter, Rose, the girl would end up involved in child pornography.