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Blake's Attorney Challenges Allegation

Prosecutors have failed to prove the actor fired the fatal shot, says Thomas Mesereau Jr.

October 28, 2003|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

Robert Blake's lawyer asked a judge Monday to set aside a newly added allegation that the actor personally shot his wife, saying there is no physical evidence to back up the claim.

Prosecutors added the gun allegation earlier this month after attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. filed a motion to dismiss much of the capital murder case against the former "Baretta" television star.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Darlene E. Schempp is expected to decide whether enough evidence exists to try Blake for murder at a hearing Friday in Van Nuys.

Blake, 70, is charged with fatally shooting Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, on May 4, 2001, outside a Studio City restaurant, where they had dined.

Prosecutors allege that Blake solicited two retired stuntmen to kill Bakley and, when they refused, he pulled the trigger himself. Blake also is charged with conspiring with Earle S. Caldwell, his handyman, to kill Bakley. The actor faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

In his reply brief, Mesereau rejected the prosecution's argument that gunshot residue found on Blake's clothing links the actor to Bakley's slaying. He offered a number of ways that the residue might have been deposited there, including from another gun the actor had in his possession the night Bakley was killed. Blake has denied all charges, telling police that he went to Vitello's restaurant to get a handgun he had left at the table and had returned to find Bakley bleeding from the head.

Mesereau downplayed the prosecution's theory that Blake ambushed Bakley "in the manner he had proposed to two people weeks before" the killing, arguing that one stuntman twice denied that Blake ever asked him to kill Bakley before changing his story almost seven months after the killing.

In a separate motion, Caldwell's lawyer, Dana M. Cole, also asked the court to throw out the conspiracy charge.

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