Actor Robert Blake collapsed in sobs Monday when the prosecution closed its murder case against him by playing tapes in which he talked about his love for the daughter he had with slain wife Bonny Lee Bakley.
His entire body shaking, Blake was rushed from the courtroom by four attorneys. His sobs resonated from the hallway outside, until he regained composure and returned about three minutes later.
Prosecutor Shellie Samuels rested her case after playing video from a 2003 interview of Blake by ABC’s Barbara Walters and audio of Blake talking with an unidentified visitor while he was in jail before being released on bail.
In the recordings, Blake referred to Rosie, the baby that resulted from a casual sexual relationship with Bakley and led to their marriage about five months before the killing.
“What the (expletive) are they going to do to me? ... God’s been on my shoulder since I was born. God’s been on my shoulder since Rosie was born,” Blake said in one of the audio tapes.
That clip was quickly followed by another in which Blake said, “When this (expletive) is over, no matter what happens, they’re going to be all right financially. Rosie is safe. Those monsters will never get her.”
The prosecutor has said that “monsters” was a reference to Bakley’s family.
The defense was expected to begin presenting its case on Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, a fraud detection specialist testified that Blake cashed checks worth $126,000 from two accounts in the months before his wife was killed — activity which triggered a suspicious-activity report from his bank.
The checks were cashed in mostly $5,000 increments between September 2000 and March 2001, said Helga Shattuck, a senior compliance specialist for City National Bank. When the total reached $126,000, federal banking officials were notified of “suspicious activity.”
Samuels suggested at the outset of the trial that Blake may have made the withdrawals as part of a plot to hire someone to kill Bakley.
Blake, 71, is charged with shooting Bakley, 44, in 2001 as she sat in a car near his favorite restaurant. He said he returned to the car to find Bakley mortally wounded after leaving her briefly to return to the restaurant to retrieve his gun. The weapon, which Blake says he inadvertently left behind, was not the one used to kill Bakley.
On cross-examination, Shattuck testified that Blake withdrew nearly $138,000 from an account between January 1999 to June 2000. She said these withdrawals did not trigger any reports of any suspicious activity.
Shattuck testified that the bank handled accounts for many celebrities and she is accustomed to seeing large withdrawals.
“The withdrawal of significant amounts of money is not unusual in the accounts of celebrities,” said defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach, who has suggested throughout the trial that it wasn’t uncommon for Blake to have large amounts of cash in his possession.