Blake Defense Tries to Undermine Testimony

Robert Blake's (search) attorney opened his defense by attacking the credibility of a Hollywood stuntman, one of the key witnesses for the prosecution in the actor's murder trial.

M. Gerald Schwartzbach (search) on Tuesday called the wife and son of stuntman Gary McLarty, who had testified that he believed Blake tried to hire him to kill Bakley.

Cole McLarty testified that his father was paranoid and delusional and constantly under the influence of cocaine. He also said his father told him that when he met with Blake the actor made one request.

"He just said that Mr. Blake had somebody stalking him and he wanted their eyes blackened and he offered money," the younger Mclarty said.

"Do you recall your father saying anything about Mr. Blake wanting his wife killed," asked Schwartzbach.

"No," said the witness.

Karen McLarty, who has been married to the stuntman for over 30 years but separated for 16 years, said she has observed him using cocaine during most of their marriage.

Blake's former maid, Lidia Benavides, also testified Tuesday. She said she saw a suspicious car parked near Blake's house twice in the weeks before Bakley was killed.

On cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels asked Benavides if she had been worried about the mysterious car.

"A little," Benavides said, speaking through a Spanish-language interpreter.

Samuels suggested the maid had told police she wasn't afraid when she saw the car and also pointed out that Benavides had sold her story to the National Enquirer for $1,000.

The witness denied telling police she wasn't afraid and said most of what was in the Enquirer was a lie.

Bakley, 44, who had recently had Blake's baby, was fatally shot on May 4, 2001, as she sat in a car near a restaurant where the couple had dined. Blake contends he returned to the car to find Bakley mortally wounded after leaving her briefly to return to the restaurant to retrieve a handgun he claims he carried for protection.

The weapon, which Blake says he inadvertently left behind, was not the one used to kill Bakley.