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Witnesses: Blake friendly on night of murder

Defense trying to show that nothing was amiss that night
/ Source: The Associated Press

Robert Blake’s defense attorney called a parade of witnesses Thursday from the actor’s favorite restaurant, with customers and employees saying he showed no signs that anything was amiss in the hours before his wife was killed.

“I gave him a little head nod and a wave of recognition,” diner James Timothy Walker testified at Blake’s murder trial. “I’m a fan and it was good to see him there. He gave me a little head nod and a wave back.”

“Did you notice anything unusual?” defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach asked.

“No,” said the witness, who recalled dining on his favorite dish, the “Robert Blake Pasta Special,” at Vitello’s restaurant that night.

Another customer, Chris Taylor, said he was there with a friend when Blake “acknowledged us by a wave or a nod.”

Prosecutor Shellie Samuels asked the witnesses how long they had observed Blake. Each said five or six seconds.

The accounts contradicted other diners who had testified for the prosecution that Blake seemed agitated the night Bonny Lee Bakley was killed.

Bakley, 44, was fatally shot May 4, 2001, as she sat in a car near Vitello’s. Blake had married her after learning he was the father of her baby.

Blake contends he found Bakley mortally wounded after he had returned to the restaurant to retrieve a handgun he claims he carried for protection. The weapon, which Blake says he inadvertently left behind, was not the one used to kill Bakley.

Waiter Christopher O’Brien testified Thursday that when Blake visited Vitello’s, he always left his car in the spot where the vehicle was parked the night Bakley was killed. His testimony seemed to contradict a prosecution claim that Blake chose the location that night because it was secluded.