by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
April 19, 2002
ACTOR ROBERT BLAKE ARRESTED IN WIFE'S 2001 MURDER
LOS ANGELES, April 18, 2002 -- Robert Blake, the 68-year-old star of the '70s hit police drama "Baretta," on Thursday became the star of a new major tv drama, his own arrest for the murder of Bonnie Lee Bakley, 44, liveon local television on the six o'clock news.
Blake was arrested for the May 4, 2001, Studio City, Calif., slaying of Bakley, his estranged wife and mother of his two-year-old daughter, Rosie. Also arrested was Earle Caldwell, 46, his former bodyguard. Blake was arrested at his sister's home in the gated community of Huidden Hills, about 25 miles northwest of downtown L.A.
Caldwell was stopped in his Jeep as he drove along Alameda Ave. in Burbank, about a half mile from the NBC Television Studios.
According to police, Blake faces charges of first-degree murder with the "special circumstance" of lying in wait, which can carry the death penalty. He is unlikely to be granted bail in a capital case, but friends said he would easily be able to raise it if it were set at $1 million, the minimum in murder cases. Caldwell was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. [Caldwell is being held on $1 million bail, police said Friday.]
According to police detectives who spoke at a press conference in the audiorium at the downtown Parker Center L.A.P.D. headquarters famous from the O.J. Simpson case, Blake "was in a marriage that he did not want," and had sought hired killers to murder his wife before doing it himself on a darkened roadside near Vitello's, a popular Italian eatery close to Ventura Blvd. The gun recovered a day or two later from a large construction Dumpster near the car in which Bakley's body was found was the murder weapon, detectives charged.
It was a German-made World War II-era pistol, not the .38Blake said he had forgotten at the restaurant.
Blake had told police the murder occurred while he had returned to Vitello's to get a gun he left on the seat in his favoriterear booth in the restaurant.
But police said no one ever saw him pick up a gun in the restaurant; instead, they say, it was in the Dumpster after having been used to shoot his estranged wife.
LAPD Chief Bernard Parks, who had earlier cleared his schedule to deal with his own termination as chief yesterday by the Los Angeles City Council, returned to the spotlight yesterday afternoon looking fit and focused. He has announced a news conference for Monday to outline his futur eplans. Blake will be arraigned on Monday.
Bakley was pictured by Blake after her death as a woman on the make, one who sent partially nude pictures of herself to strangers she met on the Internet, and then conned them out of money on the pretext of coming to meet her.
A persistent theme of Blake's developing alibi was that his wife was killed by some man she had cheated out of money. Tonight, as Blake waited in Parker Center for a midnight transfer to the high-security lockup at the nearby Los Angeles County Men's Jail, that story was not ringing true.