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Friend testifies for prosecution in Blake case

Prosecutors attempt to prove Blake wanted former stunt men to kill his wife.
/ Source: Reuters

An old friend of Robert Blake testified Wednesday that the actor sought his help in contacting two retired stunt men whom the prosecution contends Blake wanted to hire to kill his wife.

Roy “Snuffy” Harrison said Blake, 71, who is charged with murdering his 44-year-old wife Bonnie Lee Bakley, said the former “Baretta” star did not tell him why he wanted the men.

Blake, who has shown little expression since his murder trial started a month ago, smiled broadly as Harrison recalled how he and Blake would sit on a shaded swing at the actor’s suburban Los Angeles home and “talk about old times, funny things that would happen on the sets” of the ’70s TV shows.

Prosecutors say Blake explored ways to get Bonny Lee Bakley out of their daughter’s life, and unsuccessfully solicited two stuntmen to murder her, before pulling the trigger himself on May 4, 2001. The stuntmen, Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton and Gary ”Whiz Kid” McLarty, are scheduled to testify next week.

Prosecutor Shellie Samuels suggested that Blake sought out stunt men because they did “a very exacting job” that requires concentration and good timing.

She was barred from introducing evidence that Harrison and former Blake handyman Earle Caldwell did computer searches for silencers before the murder.

Earlier in the day, Caldwell’s former girlfriend said that, the day after Bakley’s murder, Caldwell called in a panic and had her take things from his apartment before the police could find them.

Lisa Johnson told the jury that Caldwell had her remove his computer; paperwork on his desk; notes, receipts and phone numbers on his bulletin board and a box of sweatshirts from Blake.

She added that Caldwell had her throw away a brown bottle and an Altoids tin with brown, clear rocks inside. Police think the tin contained drugs that Blake wanted to plant on Bakley to get her arrested.

Under cross-examination, Johnson said Caldwell seemed surprised that Bakley had been murdered.

Caldwell, who has refused to testify, was Blake’s co-defendant when the two were arrested in April 2002. The charges against Caldwell were dropped in 2003 because of a lack of evidence.