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April 22, 2002
Jon Christian Ryter
Copyright 2002 - All Rights Reserved
To distribute this article, please post this web address or hyperlink
it took eleven months. And, what most of America expected to happen on
May 5, 2001 finally happened on April 18, 2002: former Baretta TV star
Robert Blake was arrested for the murder of his estranged wife, Bonnie
Lee Bakley after her cold-blooded murder on May 4, 2001, Bakley was shot
to death in Blakes car a block and a half from the Studio City restaurant
where the unhappily married couple had dined minutes before. The LAPD
As the Los Angeles police department began
to investigate the murder of Bakley on the night of May 4 the ghost of
the O.J. Simpson investigation shrouded it like a gray cloud
of doom. It was, after all, another celebrity murdereven though
Blake, who has been long out of the public limelight for several years,
is a celebrity only because the nostalgic satellite TV network TV Land
has made him one by airing old reruns of his popular TV series, Baretta,
to a generation that never knew him.
Then as the LAPD prepared to arrest Blake
(something they should have done a day after the murder when his alibi
fell apart) they wanted to make up for the bad press they received from
their much publicized arrest of football great O.J. Simpsonso they
public. By going public the LAPD leaked information to the
media that they were about to arrest actor Robert Blake and his former
body guard Earle Caldwell. Caldwell was arrested after being stopped in
his white RV in a made-for-TV event that was somewhat reminiscent of the
famous slow speed O.J. Simpson car chase. Blake was apprehended
in his new home in the gated community of Hidden Hillsalmost like
he thought the gates would keep the LAPD out when they came
Its hard to believe that Blake could
have, even for a moment, imagined that his celeb-status would protect
him from being arrested even though he had to think, for eleven months,
that it had.
who was taken into custody under the glare of helicopter mounted news
cameras, has apparently confessed to the LAPD that his former boss and
friend had tried to hire him to kill Bonnie Lee Bakley because Blake was
afraid if he divorced her that she would gain custody of their daughter.
Since it is now clear that Bakley was operating a soft porn
business from Blakes homeand also operated a telephone sex
businessthe odds were very good that, with a good lawyer, Blake
would have had little trouble securing custody. Now Blake will need a
very good lawyer just to keep from getting the death sentence for her
The LAPD is understandably nervous since they
do not fare well in celebrity murder trials. (Americans idolize their athletic
heroes and movie stars to such a degree that they can forgive them of just
about everything.) During the Vietnam War communist-sympathizer movie actress
Hanoi Jane Fonda went to Hanoi to offer comfort to the Viet
Had she been Betty Sue Smith or Billy Bob Smith from Podunk, Mississippi,
the common ordinary citizen would have been arrested, tried and convicted
of treasonor at least, providing aid and comfort to an enemy of the
United States. But, because Fonda was a celebrity from a celebrity movie
family, she escaped unscathed. Admittedly, Jane Fonda never took a gun and
shot a loved one, or took a knife and stabbed and slashed anyone to death.
She is, however, a celebrity who escaped retribution for an act deliberately
initiated against her country during a time of war solely because she was
a celebrity. That is wrong. All of us, celebrity or invisible citizen, is
responsible for the actions we commit; and if those actions violate the
laws of this great nation, then we must be held to task for those misdeeds.
Difference Between Then and Now
There is a major difference between what
will become the Blake Murder Trial and the Trial of the Century
where football great and second-rate movie star O.J. Simpson was arrested
and placed on trial for the June 12, 1994 bloody murder of his ex-wife,
Nicole Brown Simpson and her lover, Ron Goldman, outside Nicole Brown
Simpsons Brentwood condominium.
Even though 90% of White America
believed Simpson was guilty of the stabbing/slashing deaths of his ex-wife
and Goldman (and 90% of the nations African-American population
is convinced he was innocent), logic suggests that O.J. Simpson was systematically
being framed by an overzealous LAPD investigative team that was so convinced
of his guilt from the first minutes at the crime scene that they manipulated
the evidence to agree with their theory. Added to that was a prosecutorial
team which knew the crime of the century would serve as a
boost to their careersnot to mention the money that would be made
from book deals once Simpson was found guilty.
And, while the evidence as presented
by the LA Prosecuting Attorneys office screamed that Simpson was
guilty, logic shouted just as loudly that he was being framed. Nobody,
however, listened to the logic since America has been conditioned to believe
that the scientific evidence never lies. That is, unless the
scientific evidence is planted.
Anyone who listened closely during the preliminary
hearing, when evidence was offered to support the prosecutions contention
that O.J. Simpson killed his estranged wife and restaurant server Ron
Goldman who was returning Nicole Simpsons glasses to her that evening,
realized that the police had arrested the wrong person based entirely
on the testimony offered by one individual during that hearing when Simpson
was bound over for trial before Superior Court Judge Lance Ito. That testimony
was ignored because as anyone who has ever fished for trophy-sized fish
knows, you never bait your hook for a minnow when you can snag a marlin.
And, when bureaucratic careers are at stake,
and the media has already convicted the accused, you are all but obligated
to prove the media is right.
Case Against Blake
The media in this case took care not to
brand Blake as the murderer even though any astute Agatha Christie mystery
fan had already concluded he was. Six hours after the murder the police
found the murder weapona vintage German .38 caliber pistol. The
serial number had been filed off and was not visible to the naked eye.
However, technology being what it is today, the police lab was able to
use acid to retrieve it. The gun
was traced to Blake. However, ever-mindful of the Simpson debacle, the
LAPD bided their time and amassed what was reported to be 500 pieces of
evidence that would prove, without a doubt, that Robert Blake did, with
malice of forethought, plan and ultimately execute, his wife Bonnie Lee
Bakley expressly to assure his custodial rights of their daughter.
The State slowly and meticulously gathered
the evidence they needed to arrest Blake. In their search they found at
least one person other than Caldwell whom Blake tried to hire to kill
Bakley. Bakley, who suspected that her estranged husband was planning
to have her killed, alerted every friend and family member she had that
if anything happened to her that the police needed to look no farther
than her husband to find the killer. Very likely that was why Blake sought
outside help that would allow him to establish an alibi by
which he could prove he was elsewhere when the unfortunate tragedy occurred.
That triggered a series of events which
would likewise point the finger of guilt in his direction when doing nothing
would have helped blur the question of that guilt.
Blake, who ate at Vitellos Restaurant
in North Hollywood once or twice each week, never made a reservation before
showing up. And, in all of the time that Blakea celebritydined
there, he never had to wait for a table. Yet, on May 4, 2001 he called
and made a reservation for dinner. Further, everytime Blake arrived at
the restaurant (that was located six blocks from his North Hollywood home),
he used the valet parking. On May 4 he parked a block and a half away
from the restaurant in an alley beside a dumpster that blocked his car
from sight from any passersby. And Blake who, according to Bakleys
friends, had not a kind word to speak to Bonnie Lee in almost a year,
treated her lovingly throughout dinner. (One could almost imagine that
he wanted her last meal to be a pleasant experience since
the aftermath would not be.)
Since he knew he would likely come under
suspicion for her death, Blake appears to have been trying to circumstantially
establish that he and Bakley were coming to grips with their problems
and that they were attempting a reconciliation of their marriage for the
sake of the baby, thus eliminating any motive he might have for
wanting her dead.
The evidence presented by the Prosecuting
Attorney will likely show that when Blake and
Bakley returned to their car, Bakley got in on the passenger side. Blake
perhaps even started to get in, facing her across the seat. At that moment
the prosecution will likely attempt to show, Blake pulled his handgun
and shot and killed her. He then walked another block or so and disposed
of the murder weapon. He then returned
to Vitellos Restaurant and asked for a glass of water. No one at
the restaurant remembers Blake saying he inadvertently left his handgun
at his table, or that anyone searched for it. Yet, in his story to the
police, Blake said he left his handgun in the restaurant and, leaving
Bonnie Bakley in the car alone, he returned to Vitellos to get his
gun. When he returned to the car he discovered that Bakley had been shot.
During their investigation, the LAPD learned
that, during the meal, Blake left the table where he went to the mens
room and began to vomit. He then returned to the table and continued eating
his dinner. Whats wrong with that picture? If you have ever gotten
nauseated during a meal to the point that you were forced to throw up
what you were eating, you know you dont return to the table and
eat more. Yet, Blake did. It is the conclusion of the LAPD that Blake,
knowing that he was only minutes away from killing his wife, became nervous
and threw up his meal.
Returning to the table, and needing to keep
up the charade, he sat down and finished his meal. He knew he could pull
it off because he was, after all, a polished movie actor. And, this was
going to be the Academy Award winning performance of his lifetime.
As in the O.J. Simpson casebut for
entirely different reasonsBlake was the only viable suspect in the
Bakley killing. And, unlike the Simpson case where the police investigators
never looked beyond the former football great, it is beginning to appear
that, over the past eleven months, the LAPD traveled to 20 States to conduct
interviews with those on Bonnie Lee Bakleys sex mailing list to
see if it appeared that Bakley had been blackmailing any of themas
suggested by friends and attorneys for Blake (based on statements argued
by Blake and Caldwell.
LAPDs Biggest Investigative Boondoogle
There is no doubt that the Nicole Brown
Simpson murder investigation was the biggest, most expensive investigative
boondoogle up to that time, and the LAPD wanted to make sure it did not
repeat its past errors. Thus far, with all the travel-related expenses
spent to physically investigate, and then eliminate every possible suspect
before arresting Blake, the Los Angeles police racked up the biggest tab
ever spent to investigate an LA County murderexceeding the amount
spent for the DNA testing of the Simpson-Goldman crime scene and OJs
Brentwood mansion, and the high profile witnesses that were used to rebut
the witnesses for the defense.
Great big red warning flags went up during
the six day preliminary hearing in the municipal courtroom of Judge Kathleen
Kennedy-Powell, but nobody noticed because the media had already concluded
that O.J. Simpson, in a jealous rage, killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown
Simpson and restaurant worker Ron Goldman when he stumbled into the crime
scene while returning Simpsons eye glasses which she inadvertently
left at the restaurant.
prosecuting attorneys do not expose more evidence than they have to during
a preliminary hearing that binds the defendant over for trial in Superior
Court. Thus, the DNA evidence that the State would present as conclusive
evidence that O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife and an unfortunate visitor
to her home somewhere around 9 p.m. on June 12, 1994 was not presented
in the preliminary hearing. All the State had to show was that a preponderance
of the evidence presented suggested there was reason to hold the defendant
over for trialnot that he was innocent or guilty. In this case,
one of their star witnesses was a young freeloader named Brian Kato
Kaelin who lived in a bungalow behind O.J.s house. What is interesting
is that prior to moving to O.J.s estate, Kaelin was a house guest/former
lover of Nicoles. Kaelins testimony was needed to show that
O.J. had disappeared from his home long enoughand at
precisely the right timeto have committed the crime.
But Kaelins testimony, supported by
the other witnesses during the preliminary hearingbut not presented
during the actual trialinitially raised the warning flag that perhaps
there had been a rush to judgment, and the State should have been investigating
other people...perhaps the lovable Kato Kaelin.
In establishing his own alibi
where he was during the critical 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. time slot when the
State maintains the crime had to have been committed (since O.J., who
was seen by Kaelin at 9:36 p.m. at Simpsons Rockingham Drive mansion,
was waiting on a limo to take him to the airport for a flight to Chicago
where Simpson was scheduled to represent Ford Motor Company at a golf
tournament) Kaelin told police that he was talking to a couple of his
girl friends on the telephone from around 9 p.m. until shortly around
11 pm except when he saw Simpsonwearing a dark sweat suitin
the yard of his home at 9:36 p.m.
But, what was interesting was a small portion
of Kaelins conversation with the girl friend at around 10:45 p.m.
As they were talking, Kaelin suddenly asked the girl: Was there
just an earthquake? The girl said there was not. Kaelin replied:
Thats strange. I just heard three loud thuds on the back wall,
and the picture on my wall moved about six inches. First, earthquakes
dont produce thuds. They produce tremors which are not visible only
on one wall, but everywhere. Kaelin, who had lived in California long
enough to experience more than one tremor, would have known that. His
question, then, is suspect. Had it ended there, Kaelins question
could have been dismissed as Kaelin stupidity, an act he tried hard to
project. But it didnt end there.
When Allan Park, the limo driver showed
up around 10:45 p.m. to pick up Simpson, it was Kaelin who opened the
gate and admitted him to the property. Not content with his girl friends
assurances that there had been no earthquake, Kaelin then asked the same
question of Parks: Was there just an earthquake this evening?
Parks, like Kaelins girl friend, said there had not been. And, once
again, Kaelin said: Thats strange. A few minutes ago, I heard
three loud thuds on the back wall of my apartment, and the picture on
my wall moved about six inches. Park assured Kaelin that, to the
best of his knowledge, there had been no tremors.
Kaelin apparently belonged to the old Readers
Digest school of adage that says if you like a word, use it three
times and its yours. Kaelin appears to have wanted to convince someone
that an earthquake had happened, or that the three thumps on his back
wall signified that someone had been behind his apartmenta narrow
was shrouded with overgrown vegetationand had bumped into the window
air conditioning unit and perhaps then had fallen against the back wall
of the building as they were disposing of something back there.
At least, that is what LAPD Detective Mark
Fuhrman thought when he and Detectives Tom Lange, Philip Vannatter and
Ron Phillips invaded the Simpson mansion without a search warrant because
Fuhrman was convinced from the moment he realized that
the victim was Simpsons ex-wife, that Simpson was the killer. Fuhrman
knocked on Kaelins door. And, almost before Fuhrman could explain
what he was doing there, Kaelin asked: Was there an earthquake this
Fuhrman, like Kaelins girl friend
and Allan Park, said there had not been. By this time it should have been
obvious that Kaelin was not trying to convince himself that an earthquake
had occurred, but was attempting to convey information. And Fuhrman, who
was already convinced that Simpson was guilty, was ready to receive any
information that would help him prove it. And, obligingly, Kaelin helped.
Thats strange. When I was talking to my girl friend an hour
or so ago, I heard three loud thuds on the back wall, and the picture
on my wall moved about six inches.
But what was most strange of all is that
back wall Kaelin kept mentioning was constructed from concrete block.
It would have taken an Israeli bulldozer to move that picture. But, nobody
was interested in that fact. Fuhrman took the bait and made his way behind
the building, brushing aside cobwebs (that should have suggested there
had been no one there) as he worked his way through the overgrowth and
found the incriminating bloody glove that would be a key piece of evidence
against Simpson since both Nicole Brown Simpsons and Ron Goldmans
blood was found on it. As far as Fuhrman, Lange and Vannatter were concerned,
they had their man.
While several books have already been written
by advocates on both sides of the O.J. flap, reams have been written on
the comedy of errors committed not only by the crime scene investigators,
but by Dr. Sathyavagiswaran Lakshmanan the LA County Coroner who not only
destroyed volumes of evidence, but mishandled the autopsy which was necessary
to establish the time of death of Goldman and Brown-Simpson. There was
also a well-founded suspicion that Detective Philip Vannatter actually
planted blood evidence in order to further incriminate Simpson.
When Simpson returned home on June 13, he
was handcuffed and taken into custody by the LAPD (but not arrested).
While being questioned, Simpson was asked for a blood sample for DNA purposes.
Simpson was told that if he was innocent, his blood would not match any
of the samples found at the crime scene. Simpson voluntarily gave a vial
of blood. Present was Vannatter. Instead of the lab techs turning the
blood over to the CSI technicians across the hall, Vannatter put the vial
of blood in his pocket and took it to both Brown-Simpsons condominium
and Simpsons Rockingham residence. When he returned it the CSI technicians
later that day, there were 3ccs of blood missing. This single piece of
evidence was so damning on the State that they refused to present either
the CSI technician or the tech who drew the blood during the trial.
Surprisingly, Judge Lance Ito allowed the
tech who drew the blood to testify via video tape, without allowing the
defense to cross examine him, why 3ccs of blood was missing from the vial.
A speck of Simpsons blood showed up on the incriminating glovewhich
shockingly did not fit Simpson when the prosecution forced him to try
it on in open court, and a couple of drops of Simpsons blood
showed up on the 13th on the sidewalk outside Brown-Simpsons apartment,
and two drops showed up at Simpsons Rockingham home. But the most
damning, and easiest piece of tampering to prove came from the socks
in O.J.s bedroom that did not show up when the CSI photographer
videotaped the room, but showed up a couple of hours later on the floor
in front of O.J.s bed. The infamous sock contained blood stains
belonging to both Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson.
The State argued that the blood ended up
on the sock when Simpson killed his ex-wife and her guest. The problem
was, as was proven by forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee, the blood stain was
artificially dabbed on the sock and the stain penetrated the inside fibers
on the other side of the socksomething that could not happen if
a foot was in the sock when it was splattered with blood during the commission
of the crime.
While uncovering the fact that much of the
evidence against Simpson was manufactured does not prove that O.J. Simpson
was innocent of the crime, it did wave a series of red warning flags that
the LAPD and the Prosecuting Attorney chose to ignore because convicting
a celebrity would have enhanced their careers. The onus was on the State
to prove, with untainted evidence, that Simpson did orchestrate the deaths
of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman.
Looking at the O.J. investigation in retrospect,
someone at the LAPD had to be thinking that possibly Kato Kaelin should
have been questioned more as a suspect and less like a gift horse.
Fuhrman, under oath in the trial testified that he did look in Kaelins
garbage to see if he had thrown away bloody clothes. It is, however, unlikely
that the LAPD will ever re-open the Simpson case not because, as they
say, because they know they got the right man, but because of the embarrassment
it would cause themafter destroying O.J. Simpsons lifeto
have to admit they prosecuted the wrong man. Its a safe bet that
if someone walked into police headquarters and tried to confess to the
crime, they would not record the confession nor take the person into custody.
an Eleven Month Investigation
that is the reason the LAPD has taken eleven months investigating the
Bonnie Bakley murder. They were convinced, on May 5, 2001 that Baretta
star Robert Blake was the killer. But they cannot afford, once again,
to be accused of a rush to judgment. For that reason, they took the time
to nail down every facet of the case before taking Blake into custody.
It is not, as has been suggested by the media, that the State of California
has a weak case and, other than the murder weapon, only weak
I think the State will be able to easily
convince a jury that Blake, who failed in at least two attempts to hire
the job done, finally took it upon himself to plan the deed and execute
his wife on May 4, 2001. The defense will argue that because of Bakleys
seedy lifestyle, that any number of her porn clientssome of whom,
they suggest, were blackmailed by Bakleycould have killed her and
that, in fact, that was Blakes fear...and the reason he carried
a handgun. He wanted to be able to protect her from those potential (although
invisible and likely fictitious) assailants.
Blakes biggest problem was that he
has always snubbed his thumbor forefingerat society. He believed
he was smarter than those who would naturally look in his direction, and
since he wrote the script for the final days of Bonnie Bakleys life,
and then acted it out on center stage, he was convinced the movie-going
public would buy itand his grief over the loss of a woman he detested
but was afraid to divorce.
You might say that Blake was caught by Baretta.
If you cant do the time, dont
do the crime.