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Witness: Blake didn’t ask him to kill wife

Says the actor may have indirectly suggested it
/ Source: The Associated Press

A key prosecution witness who was expected to say that Robert Blake solicited the murder of his wife testified Monday that the actor never directly asked him to murder Bonny Lee Bakley.

Gary McLarty, a retired stuntman, also acknowledged he was a heavy user of cocaine and had experienced paranoid delusions that people were tunneling under his house, that he was being chased by police and was being watched by satellites.

Under prosecution questioning, McLarty said Blake complained to him about his wife, showed him where she lived at his home, and pointed out a place where “someone could go up the stairs at night and pop her.”

Asked by the prosecutor if Blake led him to believe he wanted him to commit the crime, McLarty said, “It was obvious.” But at another point McLarty said, “I insinuated it.”

At a preliminary hearing, McLarty had testified Blake solicited the killing of his wife.

Defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach pressed McLarty on Monday about what Blake had really said.

“Mr. Blake never actually said he wanted you to do something to Bonny Bakley at that time?” asked Schwartzbach.

“Yes, that’s true,” McLarty said.

Bakley, 44, was shot May 4, 2001, in Blake’s car near a restaurant where the couple dined. The 71-year-old former “Baretta” TV star is charged with murder, soliciting others to commit a murder and lying in wait in the 2001 shooting death of Bakley, the woman he married after learning he had fathered her baby.

Blake claims he found her bleeding after leaving her alone to return to the restaurant to retrieve a handgun he carried for protection.

McLarty testified that during their meeting Blake mentioned $10,000, but there was no discussion of whether that was a fee for murder.

Two or three days later, he said, Blake called him and “he asked me what I thought. I said I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He asked why and I said, ’Just your notoriety.”’

Schwartzbach suggested that when Blake contacted McLarty he was worried because someone had been “bothering” Bakley and Blake was seeking protection.

McLarty said that the subject of protection was one of the reasons he met with Blake, along with his belief that he might be getting a stunt role “doubling him” in a new movie.

Under questioning, McLarty acknowledged that he had been a heavy cocaine user since the 1980s, but said he decided to give it up “because of this trial.”

The witness also acknowledged that years ago he killed someone at his home but was not charged because it was considered self-defense, and that he had a reputation as “a tough guy.”

Late in the day, Schwartzbach confronted McLarty with statements he had made to police and at a preliminary hearing that were inconsistent with his testimony.

McLarty gave different accounts of when he met with Blake, where they discussed certain things, whether Blake showed him a revolver or an automatic weapon and who first mentioned money.

Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels objected to many of the questions, saying the answers were not inconsistent. She was scheduled to question McLarty on Tuesday.