The jury in the Robert Blake wrongful-death trial begins its deliberations today needing to resolve two vastly different portraits of the actor: a man who killed the wife he hated to gain sole custody of their infant daughter, and a man who tried, without success, to rescue a woman from her sordid past.
The case, heard in a Burbank courtroom for the last two months, stems from the May 4, 2004, slaying of Bonny Lee Bakley on a Studio City street shortly after she dined with Blake at a nearby restaurant.
A jury in a criminal trial earlier this year acquitted Blake of the slaying, but Bakley's family has sued the 72-year-old actor for monetary damages, saying he was responsible for her death.
In an emotion-filled closing argument, Bakley family lawyer Eric J. Dubin said Thursday that Blake -- and not myriad other possible suspects -- ambushed Bakley as she sat in the actor's sports car.
"He did it," Dubin said as he scanned the jury box.
"We're talking about a mom. No more holidays. No more birthdays," Dubin said, tears in his eyes. "It's over because this wasn't Robert Blake's retirement plan; she had to go."
Much of the civil trial has covered now-familiar ground. Bakley's family contended that Blake tried to get custody of their infant daughter Rosie. The family said that when that effort failed, Blake asked two-ex Hollywood stuntmen to kill Bakley, and after they refused, he pulled the trigger himself.
Blake countered that he loved Bakley, who he said was charming and intelligent but had a dark side that included a business in which she sent nude pictures of herself to lonely men whom she later swindled out of money.