Blake Lawyer: 'Heart' of Defense Case Stolen

Robert Blake's (search) lawyer said Thursday he hopes to go forward with his client's murder trial despite the theft of a computer that contained what a court representative described as "the heart and soul of the defense case."

The computer was taken Wednesday — the same day the jury was seated — from the apartment of M. Gerald Schwartzbach (search), who is defending the actor against charges that he murdered his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, in 2001.

Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp held a quick hearing on the issue. Noting that all parties had not gotten much sleep, she postponed a motions hearing until Monday, when opening statements had been scheduled. She did not say whether those statements would proceed.

James E. Blatt, appointed by the judge to oversee the police investigation of the burglary, said after the hearing, "Certain items were taken that could have a very negative effect if they get in the wrong people's hands."

Schwartzbach declined to comment on whether he had copies of the material on the computer missing from his Sherman Oaks apartment, which was serving as his office.

Appearing shaken as he spoke outside the courthouse, the defense attorney said that no matter what results from the investigation, "We intend to try this case as soon as we possibly can."

"We are satisfied that we have a fair jury and we want this trial," Schwartzbach said.

He declined to speculate on who might have committed the burglary, as did district attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

The judge appointed Blatt, an attorney, to oversee any searches by officers investigating the burglary, to make sure attorney-client privilege was not threatened.

"I believe there will be a very intense and thorough investigation," Blatt said. "In that computer was the heart and soul of the defense case." The judge will decide Monday whether to postpone the case or go forward, he said.

Blatt said the main thing taken was a computer, but golf clubs were also stolen, and an apartment adjacent to Schwartzbach's was entered. He said it appeared that the doors were forced with a crowbar or screwdriver.

Blake, the 71-year-old star of the old "Baretta (search)" TV series, married Bakley after DNA tests showed he was the father of her baby. Bakley was shot May 4, 2001, in a car parked near a restaurant where she and Blake had just dined. He is charged with murder and solicitation of murder.

The jurors were sworn in Wednesday after a prosecutor and defense attorney used numerous challenges to remove panelists from the jury box. They did not have to state a reason for the peremptory challenges.

The seven men and five women range in age from 24 to 78. Six alternates also were selected Wednesday.