LOS ANGELES – Robert Blake's (search) handyman left town before the actor's wife was slain and had his girlfriend get his possessions out of his apartment afterward because he feared police would seize them, the girlfriend testified Wednesday in Blake's murder trial.
Lisa Johnson (search), who has since broken up with Earle Caldwell, said he didn't want her around when he returned and inspected the items at her residence.
"He said this was his and Robert's business and not mine," Johnson said.
Caldwell was originally charged with conspiring with Blake in the May 2001 shooting death of Bonny Lee Bakley (search), but the charges were dismissed after a preliminary hearing failed to produce enough evidence to bring him to trial.
Blake is charged with killing Bakley, whom he married after discovering he had fathered her child.
The 71-year-old actor says he left Bakley, 44, in a car while he retrieved a gun he had left at a restaurant where they had just dined, and that she was mortally wounded when he returned.
Caldwell has said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination if called as a witness at Blake's trial.
Johnson said Caldwell called her a week before Bakley was killed, saying he had to go to San Francisco and that she couldn't ask any questions.
"He was very stern and it was very sudden," she testified. "He sounded very mysterious."
She said Caldwell called her the day after Bakley was slain.
"He wanted me to go to his apartment and remove his computer, all of the paperwork on his desk, notes on a bulletin board and some sweat shirts," she testified. "He was afraid police would serve search warrants and he would lose his possessions."
Johnson also testified that Caldwell once told her he was going to Arkansas at Blake's request to plant drugs on Bakley, but that he later said the effort had been unsuccessful. Prosecutors allege Blake wanted to keep his baby, Rosie, from Bakley, who had a criminal record and was on probation in Arkansas.
Prosecutors also asked Johnson to identify Caldwell's handwriting. They are trying to admit as evidence a list found in his Jeep that includes such items as pool acid and a sledge hammer. Authorities have called it a shopping list for murder, but defense lawyers say it's a normal list of things a handyman would buy.
Also testifying Wednesday was a retired stuntman who said he gave Blake the phone numbers of two stuntmen who have said Blake solicited them separately to kill his wife.
But Roy "Snuffy" Harrison said he had no memory of setting up meetings for Blake with the two men, as he is quoted as saying in a transcript of a police interview.
"I've had these surgeries and I don't remember a lot," Harrison said. He underwent quintuple heart bypass surgery and a heart valve replacement shortly after he was first interviewed by police in 2001.
After examining the transcript of the police interview, he said, "I don't remember it. I was goofier than a beach ball then because of the drugs for my heart."
When prosecutor Shellie Samuels showed him a note with one of the phone numbers and the time for a meeting at a restaurant, Harrison said it looked like his handwriting but he didn't remember it.
On cross-examination, Harrison said Blake never told him he wanted to hurt his wife and never asked him to find someone who could help him hurt Bakley.
The stuntmen who have said Blake solicited them to kill Bakley, Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton and Gary "Wiz Kid" McLarty, are expected to testify next week.