Blake's Lawyer Ridicules Prosecution Theory

Robert Blake's (search) lawyer told jurors Thursday it is ridiculous to think the actor would have killed his wife in his own neighborhood while she waited in a car parked under a street light.

"'I'm going to kill her right by a restaurant that I've been going to for 30 years,'" defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach said during closing arguments, mocking the allegations against his client.

He also pointed out that the weapon used to kill Bonny Lee Bakley (search) was a 60-year-old handgun that contained only three rounds of obsolete ammunition. Only two of the bullets were used, and Bakley was still breathing when paramedics arrived.

Schwartzbach said Blake wouldn't create such an elaborate plot, then leave his wife alive to possibly identify him.

"It is an absolutely absurd scenario," he said.

Bakley, 44, was killed May 4, 2001, outside Blake's favorite Italian restaurant in Studio City (search). The 71-year-old actor is charged with murder, two counts of solicitation of murder and a special circumstance of lying in wait.

If convicted, the former "Baretta" star could be sentenced to life in prison.

Schwartzbach was expected to conclude his closing arguments Friday, with jurors expected to get the case after prosecutors have a chance to rebut defense arguments.

Prosecutor Shellie Samuels said in her closing arguments Wednesday that Blake killed Bakley because she was a con artist who tricked him into marrying her by getting pregnant and giving birth to a daughter he quickly became obsessed with protecting from Bakley.

Schwartzbach argued Thursday that Blake had been willing to put up with Bakley for the sake of their daughter.

"He'd come to terms with the fact that it was family," the lawyer said.

Schwartzbach said Blake's cries and moans the night his wife was killed were genuine, and dismissed as mistaken witnesses who suggested the actor was faking grief.

He reminded jurors that a firefighter captain, police officer and nurse had testified that Blake was sobbing, moaning and vomiting after the attack, and that paramedics had asked that he be kept away so they could aid Bakley.

Blake "is a man of emotions," Schwartzbach said.

Schwartzbach also attacked the credibility of the prosecution's two key witnesses.

Gary McLarty, a former "Baretta" stuntman and admitted cocaine user, testified that Blake offered him $10,000 and "insinuated" that he wanted Bakley dead.

Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton, a former methamphetamine user, said Blake solicited him to kill his wife. Until six months after the crime, however, he denied knowing anything about such a plot.

Schwartzbach said McLarty has "a very, very unreliable mind," and that Hambleton "lies and lies and lies." He said neither man had been solicited by Blake.

Blake maintains that someone killed Bakley when he left her briefly in the car to retrieve a gun he accidentally left behind during dinner at the restaurant. He told detectives he was armed because his wife feared someone was stalking her.

Prosecutors argued that Blake's account didn't add up because nobody saw him retrieve the gun from the restaurant, but Schwartzbach said the layout of the restaurant would have made it easy for Blake to slip in, retrieve the gun and leave.

Blake's .38-caliber revolver was not the gun used to kill Bakley. The murder weapon was found in a nearby trash bin.