A day after Robert Blake celebrated his acquittal on charges of murdering his
wife, a lawyer for the victim's family announced plans to "wipe that smile off
his face" in a civil case.
The former Baretta star, 71, was elated after being found not guilty on
Mar. 16 in the May 2001 shooting death of his wife of six months,
Bonny Lee Bakley.
Blake was also acquitted of soliciting a former stuntman to murder Bakley,
and the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of finding him not guilty of asking a
second stuntman to kill her.
But now Blake's legal woes have entered a fresh chapter, after a wrongful death civil lawsuit was brought by Bakley's family, which was held over until the conclusion of the three-month criminal trial. Eric Dubin, the lawyer for Bakley's family, says, "I'm going to wipe that smile off his face."
Dubin adds the family felt Bakley, portrayed in court as a star-struck grifter who ran a mail-order sex business, had been murdered twice, "once in the car and once on the stand".
Blake was charged with fatally shooting Bakley, 44, in his car outside a Los
Angeles-area restaurant. The evidence was largely circumstantial, based on the
testimony of the two stuntmen whom jurors said they found unreliable.
Dubin plans to take testimony for the civil case from Blake within two weeks
and have him back in court in July.
In civil cases, a verdict is based on the "preponderance of evidence" and the jury's verdict does not have to be unanimous--a lower standard of proof than a
criminal trial where a case has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Blake also made an emotional appeal for employment just
moments after his murder trial ended--because legal fees
have left him with mounting debts.
The 71-year-old told reporters he's in desperate need of paid
work after spending $10 million defending himself against charges
of first-degree murder in the 2001 killing of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, and
further costs in the upcoming wrongful death lawsuit filed by his late wife's
He said, "I'm broke. I need a job."
But Los Angeles publicist Mike Sitrick (corr) has advised Blake to use the
murder trial to relaunch his career, by releasing a film or book based on the
case. Sitrick says, "There could be a book. There could be a made-for-TV movie, but
I don't think it would be the one that he'd want. I think he could, down the
road, get some roles."
Pop psychologist Joyce Brothers adds, "They will not only accept him back but
accept him back in spades. We are a nation that loves comebacks."
Steve Restivo, co-owner of Vitello's, the Los Angeles restaurant where Blake
shared his last meal with his late wife, is retiring from the eatery next month
but says he'd gladly give broke Blake a job.
He says, "I'll go back to washing dishes--and he can have my job."
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