LOS ANGELES – Both sides rested their cases in the Robert Blake (search) murder trial Friday after the prosecution presented a tabloid writer as its last rebuttal witness.
"All sides have rested and the case is now concluded," Judge Darlene Schempp told the jury.
The judge said closing arguments will begin Wednesday and the case will be submitted to the jury Friday. The extended recess is needed because of jurors' medical appointments.
Blake, 71, is accused of shooting wife Bonny Lee Bakley (search), 44, to death on May 4, 2001, as she sat in his car parked near a restaurant where they had dined. Blake could face life in prison if convicted.
The prosecution's rebuttal case lasted less than a day and a half. Much of the testimony sought to shore up the account of Gary McLarty, one of two former stuntmen who said Blake solicited them to kill his wife.
Both stuntmen were attacked by the defense as drug users who suffered from hallucinations and paranoia.
McLarty's son, Cole, had testified for the defense, saying that when his father told him of his discussions with Blake it was about getting paid to beat up someone and there was no mention of killing Bakley.
But Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels called Alan Smith of The National Enquirer to vouch for the authenticity of an article he wrote quoting Cole McLarty about the case.
The prosecutor read excerpts of the story headlined "Robert Blake murder — the shocking tell-all."
The prosecutor said that in the story Cole McLarty stated that Blake had talked of Bakley and "he didn't like Bonny, didn't approve of her lifestyle and wanted her out of the way."
The story also said Gary McLarty told his son that "he almost threw up when he heard Bonny Bakley was dead" and he thought Blake was behind it.
Smith said all comments attributed to Cole McLarty about his father's contact with Blake regarding Bakley were correct.
Cole McLarty has denied saying many of the comments attributed to him in the story, for which he was paid $8,000.
The defense established on cross-examination of Smith that the story never said Blake asked Gary McLarty to kill Bakley.
The story claimed that McLarty left a restaurant meeting with Blake in disgust and never talked to him again, a statement that is in conflict with testimony by both Gary McLarty and his son.
The article itself was not admitted as evidence because it was considered hearsay, but Samuels was allowed to raise it in an effort to contest Cole McLarty's testimony.