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Robert Blake Sued for Wrongful Death by Slain Wife's Heirs

The heirs of Bonny Lee Bakley filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Robert Blake on Monday, saying the actor personally shot his wife to death after conspiring with his bodyguard.

Blake has pleaded innocent to criminal charges of murder and conspiracy. The bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, pleaded innocent to conspiracy and was freed on $1 million bail posted by Blake.

The civil lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed by the administrator of Bakley's estate on behalf of her heirs.

The heirs include Rose Lenore Sophie Blake, the actor's nearly 2-year-old daughter by Bakley, a girl named Jeri Lee Lewis and two adult children, Glenn Paul Gawron and Holly Lee Gawron.

Blake's attorney, Harland Braun, said the civil suit was filed against his client because the heirs had a deadline of May 6. A Dec. 2 hearing was set.

Bakley, 44, was shot last May 4 as she sat in Blake's car near a restaurant where the two had dined. Blake, 68, has claimed she was shot while he returned to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he had left behind.

Forensic records in the criminal case viewed by The Associated Press on Monday showed that Blake had gunshot residue on his clothing and hands the night of the killing. But the reports note that he could have picked up the residue from another gun in his possession or from "environmental factors."

"If Mr. Blake is in the environment of firearms, handles firearms on a regular basis, then these results could be the result of that contact," one of the official reports said.

The residue was found on a T-shirt, on one of his boots and on a pair of jeans.

The gun believed to be the murder weapon, a World War II-vintage Walther handgun, was found in a landfill after investigators traced the contents of a Dumpster that had been on property next to where Bakley was killed, an official report said.

Police had indicated at the time of Blake's arrest that it was found in the trash bin itself.

Police also found a plastic bag with bloodstained plastic gloves in it, the records show. DNA tests showed the blood had the same genetic markers as Bakley's blood, according to the records.

Braun said the gloves probably were discarded by paramedics.

Blake has been held without bail, but his lawyer said he would ask a judge Wednesday to release his client on $1 million bail under an agreement to electronically monitor Blake's movements.

"He's not a flight risk," Braun said. "The only danger is that news helicopters might crash over him while following his car."