Fame and fortune help another celebrity to walk away from the conviction of murder. Robert Blake, who was famous both as a childhood actor, and throughout his life, was charged and acquitted in the murder of his wife Bonnie Bakley. The couple were only married for six months. In this report, I will examine how Robert Blake was acquitted from the charge of murder.
On May 4th 2001, Robert Blake and his wife Bonny Lee Bakley went for a nice evening meal at the couples’ favourite Italian restaurant, Vitello’s. After parking the car on a quiet street around the corner from Vitello’s restaurant (Kari & Associates, 2005), Blake and Bonny started walking towards the restaurant. When they got to the restaurant, the couple were seated at one of the booths to eat. They ordered a dish (Fusilli e minestra alla Robert Blake) (King, 2013) named after Robert Blake. After eating the meal, they left the restaurant to walk back to the car. When they got back to the car, Blake had noticed his personal firearm was missing from his sweatshirt. He returned to the restaurant to get it. When he arrived back at his car, he found his wife bleeding from one gunshot wound. (The Associated Press, 2005). The gunshot entered her head. Blake ran across a busy street to get help at a nearby house (Modesti, 2011). On April 18th, 2002, Robert
Blake was arrested for murder, soliciting murder, conspiracy to commit murder to which Blake professed his innocence to anyone that would listen.
Opening statements, made by M. Gerald Schwartzbach (Blake’s defence attorney) and Shellie Samuels (state prosecutor), in the Blake trial began on December 20th, 2004. Shellie Samuels opened her case and reiterated what Blake told the police at the time of the crime, that he walked his wife to their car after dinner, and then he had found that he had left his gun back in the booth at the restaurant. He said when he got back to the car that he found his wife bleeding from one gunshot. Shellie Samuels called some witnesses that were in the restaurant when Blake returned for the second time, particularly after his wife was shot and killed. They testified that Blake appear to have phoney tears as he wept and moaned over the slaying of his wife. One witness said the actor appeared to be “turning it on and off” (The Associated Press, 2005). More evidence was presented about Blake trying to get a street thug-turned-minister and two stuntmen from his early acting days to kill his wife. One of the stuntmen said Blake talked about having Bakley “snuffed” and mentioned locations for the killing, including the Grand Canyon (The Associated Press, 2005).
Blakes’ defence called it a weak case built on the testimony of the two stuntmen that he supposedly hired to kill his wife. Both were once heavy drug users and were of questionable character (The Associated Press, 2005). Aside from the men testifying against Blake, there were no eyewitnesses, no blood evidence nor any DNA evidence linking Blake to the crime. (The Associated Press, 2005) The gun used to kill Ms. Blakey was a semi-automatic World War II Walther P38 (Hills, 2005) which was found in a dumpster only a few yards away from Blake’s’ parked car. The gun oil covered the gun. They found absolutely no oil in the car, on his body, or on any of his clothing. The gun could not be traced to Blake. (Author Unknown, 2012)
Witnesses said the minuscule amounts of gunshot residue found on Blake’s hands could have come from a different gun he said he carried for protection (The Associated Press, 2005). There was an issue of admissibility of materials taken during a police search of Blake’s home on May 5th 2001. Schwartzbach one of Blake’s lawyers, argued before the court seeking to withdraw some evidence from trial because the conducted illegally search by the police at Blakes’ house. A book author was granted access to the property while the police were searching property. (Author Unknown, 2012) Police and prosecutors have acknowledged that crime writer Miles Corwin was present during the search, but they say he only went along as “an observer.” Schwartzbach, on the other hand, claims that Corwin was able to walk through the area without wearing any protective clothing to preserve evidence. (Author Unknown, 2012) On March 4, 2005, jurors began their deliberations.
On March 16th, 2005, Blake was acquitted of first-degree murder, and one count of solicitation of murder. In November 2005, after the criminal trial ended, Bakley’s children in a civil court case sued Robert Blake. He was found guilty in the civil trial of “intentionally “causing Bonny Lee Bakley’s death. The Judge ordered him to pay $30 million to Bakley’s children. (Kari & Associates, 2005). He appealed to the court and a judge cut the payment in half to $15 million. (Modesti, 2011) He lost custody of his youngest daughter Rose to his eldest daughter Delinah. After the two trials, Blake’s acting career was ruined. Blake declared bankruptcy in 2006.
In this report, I have shown how fame and fortune can sometimes help acquit famous people of horrendous crimes. In my opinion, the story that he provided about that tragic night, Robert Blake should not have been acquitted of his murder charge. Being a famous actor and having more money than the average person, I believe by the evidence provided he hired someone to kill her. Some witnesses stated from the beginning from the trial that Robert Blake did not appear to be sincere as he wept and moaned over the slaying that night. A witness stated the actor appeared to be “turning it on and off.” (The Associated Press, 2005)
Author Unknown. (2012, May 24). Retrieved January 2, 2013, from www.bakleymurder.com/part8.html Hills, J. (2005, December 27). Retrieved January 03, 2013, from http://eyeonthesparrow.blogspot.ca/2005/12/hard-evidence.html Kari & Associates. (2005, December 28). Retrieved January 02, 2013, from http://karisable.com/blake.htm
King, G. C. (2013). Retrieved January 03, 2013, from
http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/family/bakley/1.html Modesti, K. (2011, May 05). Retrieved January 02, 2013, from http://www.dailynews.com/ci_18003932 O’Connor, D. M. (2006). Celebrities-Biography. 2. Trials-Popular works. Canmore: ALTITUDE PUBLISHING LTD.
The Associated Press. (2005, March 16). Retrieved January 02, 2013, from http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/7211376/ns/today-entertainment/t/Blake-found-notguilty/#.UIQxv2eOhqE