Guest Column: The enigma of Robert Blake

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The prosecution may be playing a little Russian Roulette in seeming to embrace the defense theory that Bonny Lee Bakley was not a good person.

The defense has alleged that Bakley was a “grifter” type who preyed upon men through either promises of sex, or ambiguous sexual solicitations. It is claimed that she was married some 10 times during which eight of her husbands were manipulated, cheated and deceived. Her Internet site allegedly pandered to the prurient interests of lonely men, who were purportedly misled, lied to, received sexually explicit pictures and promises of a relationship in return for money. The defense even has gone so far as to claim that Bakley purportedly “turned on her daughters to drugs and prostitution.” She was, it is alleged, the consummate con artist.

Whether any or all of the above can be proven is beside the point. We have always seen the prosecution as the defender of the victim, no matter how tainted the victim was. After all, “she didn’t deserve to die … no one has a right to take another person’s life.” And while that argument will surely be made by the prosecution, the anomaly exists that the more they establish a motive for killing her- i.e., that Bakley would continue in her unsavory ways, perhaps even involving her newborn daughter in sexual ponzi schemes and grifter-type encounters unless she was stopped-the more the jury may be inclined to buy into the theory that she had many enemies who wanted her dead; enemies who may have killed her. Or as Bobby said on David Kelley’s “The Practice,” we’re going to Plan B … “the other dude” did it defense.

I know that some of you may ask how can the Mafia be prosecuted for killing their own, if the victim himself is a murderer and plunderer? Ah, but there are different dynamics at play. First, the alleged killers are just that-killers, plunderers. Second, they are not a formerly popular actor who has never killed anyone or committed a serious crime. Blake is not part of organized crime. He is a public celebrity. Third, if nothing else, many know of Blake’s terrible childhood years, allegedly abused by his parents, while he was earning big bucks for his family. It is clear; Blake has been emotionally scarred by those troubled years.

What compounds the prosecution problem is that there are no eyewitnesses to the crime, and the prosecution’s chief witnesses against him who say Blake solicited Bakley’s murder, allegedly have their own motives to fabricate. In short, the witnesses are not clean. While we all know the prosecution will sing its favorite mantra, “When a crime is committed in hell, you don’t have angels for witnesses,” the pressure is on them to push the Blake motive theory to its limits-and that is where it could backfire. The pressure is even greater when you consider that Blake has not been tied to the murder weapon, and there are no gun residue tests that connect Blake to the shooting.

Is it possible that a jury will so dislike a crime victim (Bakley) that they simply will “look the other way,” if given the opportunity? The simple answer is, they might. After all, it is Blake’s psychologist-daughter who is caring for Rosie, the daughter born to the victim and the defendant. Not Bakley’s family. It is Blake who appears to exhibit a passionate love and concern for this small child, not Bakley’s family. There are simply too many unknown intangibles that need to play out before the jury, before one can hazard a guess on what the jury might do with all of this.

Having pointed out some of the more obvious prosecution problems in this case, in fairness it needs to be pointed out that Blake was at the crime scene within seconds of the shooting, was the last known person to see her alive, parked on a darkened street away from the restaurant-leaving her alone in the car-while claiming she was in danger from “others,” and allegedly “faked tearful sorrow” immediately following the murder.

The jury will wrestle with what feels right to them. And that means the prosecution must walk a tight rope between giving the jury just enough of a motive for the killing, but not enough to hate the victim and brand her as a cheating, avaricious human being.