LOS ANGELES – A thug-turned-minister told jurors in the Robert Blake (search) murder trial that the actor had complained to him about a woman who had become pregnant and then offered him a blank check, which he thought was an invitation to "whack somebody."
Frank Minucci (search), who calls himself Brother Frank and wears a clerical collar, took the stand Tuesday for the prosecution. He recounted a 1999 telephone call he had with Blake.
"I said, 'What are you talking about? You want me to whack somebody?'" Minucci testified.
Minucci did not say that Blake actually asked him to commit a murder, but quoted him as saying in an angry phone call: "I'll kill her and I'll kill the kid."
The New Jersey man, who never met Blake in person and only knew him through telephone calls, said Blake made that remark before he knew the baby was his.
Minucci was the latest in a series of witnesses called by Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels to build a circumstantial case against the actor best known for the 1970s TV detective show "Baretta."
Minucci acknowledged he did not call police after hearing that Blake's wife had been shot, and said police sought him out and brought him to California to be interviewed.
Blake, 71, is charged with murdering Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, who he married after it was confirmed he fathered her baby. Bakley, 44, was shot May 4, 2001, in Blake's car near a restaurant where the couple had dined.
Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp told jurors the prosecution plans to rest its case on Monday. She plans to tell the jury at that time how long she expects the rest of the trial to last.
Minucci, who had written a book about his conversion from thug to minister, acknowledged he first called Blake on the recommendation of a literary agent who suggested they talk about a script from his book.
Minucci said Blake twice sent him envelopes with five $100 bills in them. He said he assumed it was payment for something but did not know for what.
The prosecutor continually elicited from Minucci profanity and abusive language in his descriptions of Blake's conversations about Bakley and his attitude toward women.
"They have to be used. ... It was dirty, filthy reasons," Minucci said.
Minucci also said Blake frequently confided about people he hated including actors, producers and directors.
On cross-examination, defense lawyer M. Gerald Schwartzbach asked if Minucci had said to police, "If you made a list of all the people Blake wanted whacked he would need a roll of toilet paper."
Minucci replied that it was Blake who had said that.
Minucci testified after the prosecution called back to the stand former stuntman Gary McLarty, who was expected to be a key witness against Blake on the solicitation charge, but testified that Blake never directly asked him to kill his wife.
The prosecutor asked him about a sum of $10,000 that McLarty said Blake had discussed during a meeting just months before Bakley was killed. McLarty said he thought he was being offered the money to "kill her."