Defense Lawyer: Blake's Slain Wife Taped Prophetic Phone Call

A recorded phone call shows that months before Robert Blake's wife Bonny Lee Bakley was killed, the son of actor Marlon Brando angrily warned her: "You're lucky somebody ain't out there to put a bullet in your head."

The exchange with Christian Brando was released by Blake defense lawyer Harland Braun, who cited it as evidence of Bakley's ability to provoke people, as well as a flawed investigation. Blake has been charged in the shooting.

Brando pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for shooting his half-sister's boyfriend in 1990 and served about five years in prison. Blake married Bakley after she gave birth to a child she initially claimed was fathered by either Blake or Brando. Tests showed the child was Blake's.

"The Brando tape demonstrates that she generated hostility in her customers and friends," Braun said Thursday.

Braun, who has asserted that many people had the motive to kill Bakley, also said he believes police did not adequately investigate Brando.

Police and a prosecutor's spokesman rejected Braun's assertions that Brando wasn't adequately investigated.

"We resolved any issues relating to other suspects, including Christian Brando," said police Capt. Jim Tatreau.

"We would urge Mr. Braun to prepare for a preliminary hearing instead of waving around red herrings," district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.

Brando, who had several Washington state addresses after getting out of prison, could not be located for comment Thursday. Calls to his former lawyer, Blake's defense team and the district attorney's office did not produce a telephone number or a street address.

The tape, which Braun said was made in October or November 2000, was turned over to the Blake defense by prosecutors along with 120 other telephone call tapes found among Bakley's personal effects. In a police log of evidence seized after the murder, the tape is identified as a conversation between Bakley and Brando. Bakley recorded all her telephone calls and marked each tape.

During the taped conversation, Brando vehemently denied that he fathered Bakley's baby and made clear he was not the one contemplating shooting her. But he warned her that her behavior -- particularly soliciting money from men by mail with promises of sex -- might lead to violence.

"You better get a handle on that and really think what you're doing, running around sending letters to guys, embezzling money from all these idiots," Brando said.

"Think about it," said Brando. "It gets close. You're lucky -- not on my behalf -- but you're lucky somebody ain't out there to put a bullet in your head.

"I can't believe you," he continued. "Why do you do that? Because it's something to do?"

After a pause, Bakley replied, "You know why I do that. I do that to get money."

Bakley, 44, was shot on May 4, 2001, in a car parked near a restaurant where she and Blake had just dined. Blake, 68, was arrested April 18 and has been jailed pending trial.