Police search home of Blake's daughter

By HIL ANDERSON  |  April 19, 2002 at 7:43 PM
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LOS ANGELES, April 19 (UPI) -- Police said Friday they had not offered any plea-bargain deals to the major figures in their murder case against actor Robert Blake, who was being held in the hospital ward of the downtown Los Angeles jail for the shooting death of his wife.

A captain in the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division denied media speculation that offers of leniency had been made to either bodyguard Earle Caldwell or to the two still unidentified individuals whom Blake allegedly tried to enlist to kill Bonny Lee Bakley, his wife of less than 1 year.

"No one has offered any type of arrangements to anyone," Capt. Jim Tatreu told reporters at a news conference outside Parker Center.

Blake was booked late Thursday on two counts of soliciting the murder of his 44-year-old wife and mother of his daughter and then doing the shooting himself on the night of May 4, 2001 following dinner at a favorite restaurant in Studio City.

He was expected to be arraigned Monday afternoon in Van Nuys. The murder charge carries the "special circumstance" of lying in wait, which under California law could result in the death penalty or life without parole if Blake is convicted.

"He deserves it," Bakley's brother, Joel, told reporters in San Diego Friday.

Blake, who was considered a suspect nearly from the start of the investigation into Bakley's death, surrendered to Los Angeles police at his daughter's home in a gated community near Calabasas Thursday evening.

Detectives returned to the home Friday with a search warrant and also executed search warrants at Caldwell's shabby Burbank apartment and a third undisclosed location reported to be in the desert area east of Los Angeles. Cmdr. Gary Brennan said the search yielded "papers, computers and weapons" that would be examined to see if they would be useful as evidence.

The warrants had been issued in conjunction with Thursday's arrests, but Tatreu said the investigators decided to wait until Friday to execute them so they would be rested and have more hours of daylight.

Police officials said at a Thursday night news conference that Blake was unhappy in his brief marriage and had allegedly tried to hire two unidentified individuals to kill Bakley before he shot her himself as she sat in his car near Vitello's restaurant where they had dined that evening.

"The motive was Robert Blake's contempt for Bonny Lee Bakley and the marriage he felt was forced on him," Tatreu told reporters.

Blake and Bakley had gotten married in November 2000 after a DNA test revealed that Blake was the father of the little girl to whom Bakley had given birth that June. Although Blake reportedly adored his daughter, Rose, his new wife was relegated to a separate life in the guesthouse on the grounds of Blake's Studio City home.

Caldwell, 46, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and remained in custody at police headquarters Friday.

Police said Caldwell was not one of the persons Blake allegedly asked to kill his wife; Caldwell was reportedly out of town the night Bakley was shot and killed.

Tatreu refused to provide any new details Friday on the two individuals whom Blake allegedly tried to enlist as hit men. He referred to them as "two individuals" and would not say whether or not they were cooperating in the investigation.

"I wouldn't want to characterize it (as cooperating), but they certainly have been interviewed and have provided statements," said Tatreu, who added that he could not recall when the questioning had taken place.

Police Thursday refused to discuss the evidence in the case, but Tatreu described the 11-month investigation as a methodical peripatetic undertaking that took detectives to 20 states and yielded some 900 pieces of evidence.

Blake's lawyer, Harland Braun, has said his client is innocent and suggested that Bakley was the victim of a mugger who had been active in the area prior to the slaying.

Blake told police that he had gone back inside the restaurant to retrieve a gun he had been carrying for protection and found his wife shot when he returned a few minutes later.

Braun said Friday that Blake was in good spirits while being held in the medical unit where high-profile inmates are often assigned in order to keep them away from the general jail population.

"He is being well treated by the Sheriff's Department," Braun said. "His main concerns are focused on his children."

Topics: Robert Blake
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