Charge dismissed against Blake's handyman

Saturday, November 1, 2003

— The judge in Robert Blake's murder case dismissed the lone conspiracy charge against his handyman on Friday, saying there was nothing more than speculative evidence that he was involved in the slaying of the actor's wife.

Meanwhile, the courthouse was locked down after a shooting outside. Police gathered around a body covered with a bloody sheet on a walkway outside the building.

Los Angeles Police Officer James Chong said an attorney was shot by his client and a male suspect was taken into custody. He didn't know if the shooting was connected to the case.

In dismissing charges against Earle Caldwell, Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp said the evidence against him carried "very little weight."

"I simply don't find there is probable cause," Schempp said.

Caldwell, seated in the courtroom, smiled as the decision was announced in response to dismissal motions by lawyers for him and Blake.

The judge allowed the murder charge to stand against Blake, 69, star of the "Baretta" TV show.

Blake was ordered to stand trial Feb. 9 on charges of murdering Bonny Lee Bakley, 44.