Robert Blake Challenges $15 Million Award in Damages to Children of His Slain Wife

Robert Blake's lawyer asked an appeals court Tuesday to reconsider its decision ordering the actor to pay $15 million in damages to the children of his slain wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.

Attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach said in his petition for rehearing that the 2nd District Court of Appeals, which ordered a jury award of $30 million cut in half, ignored evidence that Bakley's only income was from illegal activities and that she had not been living with her adult children who sued for loss of her comfort and care.

Blake's attorneys have long contended that Bakley was a convicted felon who used her children as assistants in her illegal schemes to acquire money from lonely old men.

"The evidence established Ms. Bakley sported a criminal record, earned her living by deceiving 'lovelorn older gentlemen' and included her children for at least administrative assistance in her illegal schemes," the appeal said.

Schwartzbach said that testimony also showed that the couple's only child, Rosie Blake, born in June 2000, suffered medical problems when in her mother's care.

"Ms. Bakley did not provide her children with a stable, normal or safe environment," the petition said. "There simply is no basis for a finding that her heirs were entitled to the astounding award so generously conferred on them by this court. ... There is no evidentiary basis to award any damages whatsoever."

Schwartzbach said the court ignored the legal requirements for a relationship between economic and emotional losses.

"This court's opinion has no basis in law and is indeed contrary to law," the petition said.

The attorney for Bakley's family, Eric Dubin, did not immediately return a telephone message.

Bakley was sitting in Blake's car in May 2001 when she was shot outside a restaurant where the two had just dined. The "Baretta" actor told police he left her alone to return to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he carried for protection and accidentally left behind.

A criminal court jury acquitted Blake of murder in 2005. Bakley's family pursued a wrongful-death lawsuit and in November 2005, Blake was found liable for his wife's death. The appeals court upheld that ruling last month, rejecting allegations of juror misconduct during the civil trial.

Although Schwartzbach said he disagrees with the court's ruling on liability, he has not yet decided whether to appeal the case to the California Supeme Court.