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Robert Blake Appeals Wrongful Death Verdict

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Mar 01, 2007 | 8:05am EST

Veteran actor Robert Blake has appealed a $30 million wrongful death verdict, alleging jurors acted inappropriately during the civil trial.

The former Baretta star was acquitted in 2005 of killing wife Bonnie Lee Bakley, but a civil jury a few months later decided he intentionally caused her death and awarded her family the multimillion-dollar compensation.

However, Blake's attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach presented a 55-page appeal in California 2nd District Court of Appeal yesterday claiming jurors discussed O.J. Simpson, ignored the lack of evidence that Blake killed his wife and decided to "send a message that celebrities and rich people cannot get away with murder."

Schwartzbach also maintains a juror who had a hearing impairment and said he missed most of the testimony was prodded into voting for the verdict by other panelists, who warned he would force a mistrial if he didn't agree with them.

Although Blake has filed for bankruptcy and is unlikely to pay the award, Schwartzbach is pressing for the verdict to be reversed to preserve the actor's reputation.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Eric Dubin said Blake's appeal was clearly an attempt to delay paying the judgment.

Bakley was shot to death as she sat in Blake's car outside a restaurant where the two had just dined in May 2001. Blake told police he had left her alone briefly while he retrieved a gun he had accidentally left behind in the restaurant.

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