Two former drug users testified in the Robert Blake murder trial Wednesday that the state’s key witness against the actor was a constant user of methamphetamine who often had hallucinations.
Keith Seals, a 32-year-old ex-convict called as a defense witness, said he manufactured methamphetamine at the home of Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton and used drugs with him for a period of years.
Seals and another witness, Donna Sharon, 39, also said they saw Hambleton using drugs as late as 2002, one of many contradictions of Hambleton’s testimony.
Hambleton, a retired stuntman, testified that Blake repeatedly solicited the murder of wife Bonny Lee Bakley. He also denied he ever had a methamphetamine lab and, although he used the drug for a time, had stopped using it in 1999, before his meetings with Blake in early 2001. Bakley was shot to death on May 4, 2001.
Hambleton did acknowledge he had ex-convicts and other people in trouble stay at his desert ranch, but denied there was widespread drug use among them.
The defense attack on Hambleton’s credibility came a day after another major prosecution witness, ex-stuntman Gary McLarty, was described by his son and wife as delusional, paranoid and constantly using cocaine.
Defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach asked Seals if he ever made meth in Hambleton’s home while Hambleton was present.
“Yes, in the pool house,” said the witness, who identified photos of the area where he said he brewed the drug in a coffee pot and sometimes spilled chemicals, requiring the carpet to be changed.
Seals said he made methamphetamine there several times and that he saw Hambleton use the drug every day that he knew him.
“We’d give each other drugs, get each other high. It was the basis of our relationship,” he said.
Both Seals and Sharon said that Hambleton kept methamphetamine in a china hutch in his dining room and had a bowl of it on a dining room table next to a bowl of jelly beans. Seals said Hambleton would have lines of methamphetamine laid out in his kitchen for his guests who wanted to snort it.
Sharon said she saw Hambleton snort, smoke and eat the drug, and that his behavior became odd.
“He thought people were in the desert dressed as sagebrush sneaking up around the house,” she said. “Sometimes he’d stand at the front window with binoculars and stare for hours. ... Sometimes he saw them in black. Sometimes he said they were dressed up as bushes.”
Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels, both witnesses said that although they used methamphetamine for many years, they never had delusions or hallucinations but did become paranoid and did not sleep when they were using the drug.
Seals said that everyone using methamphetamine experiences paranoia. He also noted, “I experienced a little paranoia. I was a criminal. If you are committing crimes you experience a little paranoia.”
He said he stayed at Hambleton’s between jailings for drug offenses and “when I was running from the police.”
Seals and Sharon said they have both given up drugs. Seals said he is now a tile and carpet installer and Sharon said she went to school and became a barber.