LOS ANGELES – Robert Blake tearfully argued with his attorney over the lawyer's refusal to allow him to testify in a videotaped deposition, complaining of life in jail and saying it will be on his lawyer's conscience if dies there.
"I'm an old man. I'm pushing 70. If I'm going to die in that box, I want to talk before I go," Blake told attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.
The jailhouse deposition in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by his slain wife's family was suspended Wednesday after Mesereau, Blake's criminal attorney, refused to let him participate.
Blake, 69, is awaiting trial on charges of shooting 44-year-old Bonny Lee Bakley to death in his car in 2001.
Before the plaintiffs' lawyer could begin questioning, Blake launched into a lengthy diatribe on the grimness of jail life.
"I have been in solitary confinement," Blake said. "I live in a cement block 24 hours a day, every day. I have no human contact. I get out for 10 minutes every other day for a shower by myself. I get a priest for a half hour on Sunday. ... I get to shake his hand. That's the human contact I have.
"I get to go up on the roof every two days for an hour at a time and sit in a cage like a monkey."
Blake at times became tearful, saying that from the day he was arrested his lawyers told him to remain silent.
"I don't know any more about criminal law than I do about brain surgery," the actor said. "I was told to shut up and I did."
But he told his lawyer he still wanted to talk.
"I want to know if you can live with the fact that when they wheel me out of here feet first with a tag on my toe that you can say you did the right thing" by preventing him from speaking, Blake said.
Mesereau threatened to quit the murder case if the actor insisted on discussing it. He announced after two hours that the deposition had been suspended.
"It was a clown show. It was a circus. It was an effort by opposing counsel to promote himself. It was filled with procedural irregularities. It was an embarrassment," he said.
The plaintiffs' attorney, Eric Dubin, said that after Blake stopped talking, he "sat there stone-faced, eating an apple and a glass of milk."
Dubin said attorneys will go back to the judge in the civil case for a ruling on whether the questioning under oath should continue.