A retired Hollywood stuntman testified Wednesday that Robert Blake told him he wanted his wife “snuffed” and would do it himself if he couldn’t get the witness to do it.
Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton told the jury in Blake’s murder trial that he had four meetings in which the actor discussed how to kill Bonny Lee Bakley, drove him around the area where the killing eventually occurred, and became exasperated when Hambleton refused the job.
“If you’re not going to do it, I sure as hell am,” the witness quoted Blake as saying.
Hambleton also said Blake talked about possible locations for the killing, including the Grand Canyon and a gambling town in Nevada.
Blake, 71, is accused of shooting Bakley, 44, in a car near his favorite neighborhood restaurant on May 4, 2001. Blake claims he found her shot after he returned to Vitello’s restaurant to retrieve a gun he carried for protection and left in their booth. That gun was not the murder weapon.
Blake and Bakley were married just months earlier after tests showed he was the father of her baby, Rosie.
Hambleton testified that Blake said he wanted to protect Rosie from her mother, who claimed she had involved another child in pornography.
“He said he didn’t care if he was caught with a smoking gun because he wanted to make sure Rosie didn’t grow up in the same environment .... He wanted things to happen right away,” Hambleton said.
Hambleton was the third witness to say that Blake talked about how his wife could be killed, but unlike the others he made no mention of a money offer. One earlier witness said Blake offered $10,000 for a job he “insinuated” was murder. The other said Blake offered a blank check he assumed was payment to “whack somebody.”
In spite of all the talk, the case has not produced strong forensic evidence tying Blake to the crime. There was no blood on his clothes and minimal gunshot residue found on his hands could have come from the gun he carried.
On cross-examination, Hambleton was confronted about his past drug use, including a methamphetamine habit, and his statement after the killing in which he told police he knew nothing about the case.
In his testimony, Hambleton repeatedly spoke of how Blake called his wife “evil” and wanted to get rid of her. He said Blake used the words “having her killed” and “having her snuffed.”
“I suggested he get someone else and he said it would just be someone else he’d have to kill,” Hambleton said.
At each meeting Blake discussed plans and possible locations for the crime, he said.
“He suggested the Grand Canyon. ... He mentioned Laughlin, Nevada, as a place the incident could take place. He said she could be in a hotel room and could be shot there,” he said.
At one point he said Blake suggested that Hambleton ride up on a motorcycle and “take care of business while the two of them were camped out on a lonely road.”
He said Blake also mentioned that “he would have a friend that already had the holes dug.” Hambleton said the mention of more than one hole made him nervous.
A retired stuntman testified Wednesday that Robert Blake took him on a tour of places where he could kill the actor’s wife, including the area around the restaurant where she was eventually slain.
Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton also testified at Blake’s murder trial that the defendant showed him a gun he could use and took him to his home and demonstrated how he could enter Bonny Lee Bakley’s living quarters, kill her and escape.
Blake, 71, is accused of shooting Bakley, 44, on May 4, 2001, in a car parked near Vitello’s, a restaurant near Blake’s home.
Hambleton said Blake arranged a meeting, which he thought was to discuss a script, but then they went for a drive.
“He wanted to drive me around so I could see the lay of the land and to Vitello’s because he had already begun the discussion about getting rid of his wife,” Hambleton said.
“The conversation went from we are going to have to take care of his wife. And he went from we to me in the singular. He obviously had picked me out to do the job,” Hambleton said.
Hambleton said Blake showed him a .25-caliber pistol and suggested that Hambleton might want to use it because it was unregistered.
Hambleton was the third witness in two days to describe Blake discussing how his wife could be killed. Unlike the others, Hambleton indicated it was clear Blake was soliciting his wife’s murder although he did not say if Blake offered any money.