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Blake thought his wife was unfit mother

78-year-old investigator testifies in actor's murder trial
/ Source: The Associated Press

Fearing his infant daughter would fall into a life of drugs and prostitution if she was raised by her mother, actor Robert Blake plotted to gain custody of the child a year before the woman was killed, a private investigator testified Friday.

William Jordan, a former Los Angeles police officer, said he aided Blake in the 2000 plan by deceiving Bonny Lee Bakley, whom Blake later married and is now accused of killing in 2001.

“He didn’t think Bonny was a good mother for Rosie,” said Jordan, 78, referring to the infant. “He wanted the baby...It was constantly on his mind, I think.”

Jordan took the stand in a videotaped “conditional examination” to be played for a jury if he is unable to testify at trial. Prosecutors, however, said Jordan probably will be available for the trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

Jordan testified he was hired by Blake in the summer of 2000 and worked for him for three or four months in anticipation of child custody proceedings. Blake’s daughter was born in June 2000.

The investigator said he developed a plan in which Bakley, who lived in Little Rock, Ark., met with Blake in California.

At the meeting, Jordan warned that she could be arrested for traveling so far from home under conditions of her parole for a conviction involving false identification.

Under those circumstances, Blake persuaded Bakley to leave Rosie with him, Jordan said. In court Friday, the investigator acknowledged that an arrest was unlikely.

“I considered the whole thing a gimmick to get her to give him the baby,” Jordan said.

Jordan recalled a conversation with Blake in which the former “Baretta” star said Rosie “would be exposed to the wrong elements, including drugs, prostitution and things of that nature,” if Bakley was permitted to raise the girl.

Blake, 70, is charged with killing 44-year-old Bakley on May 4, 2001. The couple married just months before Bakley was killed. He has pleaded not guilty.

Bakley was found shot to death in their car outside an Italian restaurant where they had just dined. Blake claims he found his wife mortally wounded after he went back to the restaurant to retrieve a handgun he carried for protection.

Blake is free on $1.5 million bail but remains under house arrest. He is due back in court for an evidentiary hearing Sept. 17.

Earlier in the hearing, defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach complained to Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp that prosecutors had not shared critical evidence with him.

Schwartzbach said a witness gave police information in April supporting the defense contention that Bakley’s killer was not Blake but someone associated with Christian Brando, the son of Marlon Brando.

The younger Brando had a romantic involvement with Bakley, who initially said her baby girl was his child. DNA tests later proved the girl was fathered by Blake.

The police report was given to the defense this week, Schwartzbach said, calling the four-month delay “startling.”

Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels said the report had been lost on her desk and was not as significant as Schwartzbach contended. The report was not publicly released.