Blake Jurors Survey Slaying Site

Jurors in Robert Blake's (search) murder trial surveyed the neighborhood where the actor's wife was slain, peered into a duplicate of the car where her body was found, and marched up and down the area's streets for nearly an hour Thursday night.

The visit followed an afternoon trip to Vitello's, the restaurant where Blake and Bonny Lee Bakley (search) had dined shortly before she was shot.

The 12 jurors and six alternates gave special attention to the car and to the trash bin where the gun used to kill Bakley was discarded.

Several jurors asked Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp (search) to walk the paths that witnesses had testified about earlier in Blake's murder trial and to include areas that were not on the original tour, including an alley behind Vitello's.

They were also taken to see a house where Blake banged on the front door seeking help and to a large tree a couple have testified they hid behind as they watched the drama unfold on May 4, 2001.

Many jurors took notes, walking under street lights to see to write. Bundled in hats and coats against the chilly night air, none seemed in a hurry for the tour to end.

Blake was present with his lawyers, but stood off to the side and watched somberly as the procession began and ended. TV cameras were held back and streets in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood were blocked off.

Jurors and alternates were brought by bus to a street near Vitello's where Blake parked his car that night. In a recreation of the crime scene, a car resembling the one in which Bakley was shot and the actual trash bin in which the murder weapon was found were placed on the street.

Earlier, they were taken through Vitello's in groups of six, led by sheriff's deputies and followed by the judge and the attorneys. They saw the secluded booth where Blake and his wife sat.

Blake remained in the restaurant's foyer during that first tour, which took about 20 minutes and also covered the kitchen and men's room. As jurors were led through the restaurant, he sat grimly under a wall of photographs of Vitello's famous customers. By coincidence he was positioned next to a photograph of former Police Chief Bernard Parks, who first announced Blake was being charged with murder.

After the restaurant tour jurors returned to the courthouse by bus. They were brought back to view the restaurant's exterior after dark to get an indication of what it looked like the night of the slaying.

Before heading to the scene, the judge told the panelists not to speak to anyone other than the bailiff and not to touch anything or do any experiments.

At the restaurant tour's conclusion, one of Vitello's owners offered the lawyers pizza. They declined.

Blake has said he and he wife left the restaurant after dinner and returned to the car, where he left her while he went back to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he carried for protection and had forgotten.

When he returned to the car, Blake has told police that his wife was in the passenger seat bleeding from two gunshot wounds. He has said he raced to a nearby house, where he pounded on the door to get help.

In front of the car that night was a trash bin that was being used during construction at a home. The weapon that killed Bakley was found amid the debris in the bin, which was returned to the scene for the re-creation.

In court Thursday, jurors again saw the long-nosed Walther P-38 revolver, which was displayed by a criminalist who test-fired it. The weapon Blake said he retrieved from the restaurant was a smaller handgun.

The jury also heard more testimony about gunshot residue even though they were shown Police Department directives that said tests for residue should not be done on a car, clothing or person who was carrying a firearm.

The defense has challenged the relevance of the tests, given those directives.

Criminalists have testified about finding some particles of gunshot residue on clothing taken from Blake, and about how such residue can be transferred from item to item, or from the environment. They have not stated that he ever fired a gun.

Blake, 71, is on trial on charges of murder, soliciting others to commit a murder and lying in wait.