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Blake defense tries to undermine witnesses

Witnesses were alleged methamphetamine and cocaine users
/ Source: The Associated Press

Robert Blake’s lawyers tried to undermine the testimony of two drug-using prosecution witnesses at his murder trial Friday, calling on an expert who said cocaine and methamphetamines can cause hallucinations that persist for years.

The visions are so realistic that a drug user can remain convinced they actually happened, said Ronald Keith Siegel, a psychopharmacologist at the medical school of the University of California at Los Angeles.

“You can’t win an argument with a paranoid,” he told the jury. “They are so convinced of the reality.”

Blake 71, is on trial in the slaying of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, 44. She was shot to death in 2001 as she sat in a car near a restaurant where the couple had dined.

Retired stuntmen Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton and Gary McLarty acknowledged using the drugs after being called to the stand by prosecutors. Hambleton testified that Blake repeatedly solicited the murder of his wife. McLarty told jurors he believed Blake tried to hire him to kill Bakley.

Siegel, who said he has studied hallucinatory drugs since the 1960s, told of sampling the drugs himself and said he once crawled into the cages of monkeys who were smoking cocaine. He said he has not tried the drugs in more than 25 years.

Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels suggested the attacks on the prosecution witnesses were not credible.

“If you have one drug user reporting on another drug user, how do you decide which one is telling the truth?” she asked Siegel.

“I’m glad I’m not on the jury,” he responded. “They have to do that.”