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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Blake 'made murder offer'
Robert Blake
Police waited nearly a year to arrest Blake
Actor Robert Blake offered $100,000 (68,000) to two stuntmen to kill his wife Bonny Lee Bakley, according to prosecution papers released in the trial of the former TV star.

A police informant tipped off Los Angeles police within a fortnight of Ms Bakley's death that Mr Blake had made the offer to Gary McLarty and Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton, said the papers released on Tuesday.


The whole case turns on talk - there's no physical evidence

Harland Braun, Blake's lawyer
The documents alleged that Mr Blake, 68, also discussed the plan with others, including a former police detective who was a friend.

Robert Blake is best known for playing the title role in the 1970s TV police drama Baretta.

His wife was shot on 4 May 2001 in a car near Vitello's restaurant in Los Angeles, where the couple had dined.

Campaign

Mr Blake said he had briefly returned to Vitello's at the time.

The prosecution papers included hundreds of pages of search warrants and statements released after a campaign by the Los Angeles Times.

Bonny Bakley
Bakley's four children are also suing Blake over the death
The documents suggested that Mr Blake was the only real suspect for the police investigation.

They alleged that he had contemplated killing Bakley since late 1999, when he found out she was pregnant with his child.

The documents also showed that after the murder, police took nearly a year to arrest the actor while they searched for witnesses and physical evidence to support the allegations of Mr McLarty and Mr Hambleton.

The first piece of physical evidence was found in March - a prepaid telephone card which had been used to make calls to the men.

The papers also contained witness statements suggesting Mr Blake proposed murder plans to his bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, and to Ms Bakley's brother, Joe, who did not know the target was his sister.

Mr Blake portrayed a tough cop in Baretta
Mr Blake portrayed a tough cop in Baretta
Mr Caldwell has been charged with conspiracy.

But Mr Blake's lawyer, Harland Braun, said the documents showed the weaknesses of the prosecution case.

"The whole case turns on talk. There's no physical evidence," he said.

Mr Braun has maintained that there are many men who could have been motivated to kill Bakley, 44.

Conspirator

The lawyer has also alleged that Los Angeles police have allowed a freelance writer to participate in parts of their murder investigation because they want a celebrity conviction.

Police transcripts obtained by CNN show that during an interview of a possible conspirator in a plot to murder Ms Bakley, former Los Angeles Times reporter Miles Corwin was introduced by LAPD murder detective Ron Ito as one of his partners.

'Incentives'

"What are they doing - selling a book or investigating a homicide?" Mr Braun said in an interview, describing last month's arrest of the actor as a publicity stunt.

Mr Braun has again filed a motion asking that bail be set for his client, saying there is no risk of him attempting to flee.

He said that despite what he called the "huge incentives" for police to find Mr Blake guilty, he would not use the revelations to try to get the actor's case dismissed.

But the Los Angeles Times has reported that Mr Blake is also implicated in offers to three other men, Roy "Snuffy" Harrison, Joe Bakley and private investigator William Welch, who have alleged that they were approached by the actor with a "contract" offer.

See also:

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