Judge Rules on Motions in Blake Case

The judge in Robert Blake's (search) murder case Wednesday reversed herself and decided to allow parts of recorded jailhouse conversations to be used at the trial, including one in which Blake referred to the family of his slain wife as "monsters."

Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp (search) also permitted use of a segment of a February 2003 jailhouse interview the former "Baretta" (search) television star gave journalist Barbara Walters.

Last week, Schempp had barred the prosecution from using the material but agreed to listen to the recordings and reconsider.

Prosecutor Shellie Samuels alleges that in the TV interview, Blake tried to give the public the false impression that there had been no trouble in his relationship with Bonny Lee Bakley or her family before she was killed.

Blake, 71, said nothing during the nearly two-hour hearing on pretrial motions that is a run-up to opening statements in his trial, scheduled to begin Monday. He is accused of shooting the 44-year-old Bakley in 2001 outside a Studio City restaurant where they had just had dinner.

No one witnessed the shooting. Blake has pleaded not guilty to murder, two counts of solicitation of murder and a special circumstance of lying in wait.

Samuels alleged that Blake killed his wife because he despised her and her family and didn't want them to have contact with Rosie, his baby daughter by Bakley.

Samuels said prosecutors wanted to play for the jury snippets of recorded conversations that Blake had in jail in 2002. In one, Blake told comedian Mort Sahl that Bakley's family were "monsters" who would never get his daughter. In other jailhouse conversations and in comments to his attorney during a police interview the night of the killing he called the family members "piranhas."

But, Samuels said, he told Walters that "there was no downside for me" in having Bakley's family move to California from out of state. Samuels argued that and similar comments showed a "consciousness of guilt."

"You don't get on TV and lie unless you have a reason to lie," she argued.

Defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach said the comment came some 20 months after the night of the killing and had no relevance to Blake's state of mind at the time of the murder.

Although the judge allowed the prosecution to use some of the material, she said the defense may bring in "the totality" of the conversation and also information about Blake's condition during the interview in prison, where he was held for about 11 months in solitary before being freed on $1.5 million bail.

Separately, two men were arraigned Wednesday on charges of burglarizing Schwartzbach's residence. A computer containing defense case information was taken in the recent break-in. It later turned up at a pawn shop. Koi Hughes Burton, 18, and Michael Washington, 19, pleaded not guilty and were ordered back to court Dec. 28.