LOS ANGELES – On the spring night in 2001 that actor Robert Blake's (search) wife was killed, they both wore black for an outing to a neighborhood restaurant.
Their outfits, hers with gunshot holes, and his with gunshot residue, were shown to jurors as his murder trial entered its scientific phase on Wednesday.
Testimony took on the aura of a made-for-TV crime show as criminalists donned plastic gloves and extracted clothing from sealed packets for jurors to see.
Diana Paul, an expert with the Los Angeles Police Department's firearms analysis unit, walked in front of the jury box displaying a hole in Bonny Lee Bakley's (search) jacket, explaining it was probably a cut made by paramedics who removed the jacket from her body. Paul then identified other holes in Bakley's jacket and blouse which she said could have been caused by a gunshot.
Bakley was shot through a cheek and shoulder as she sat in Blake's car outside the restaurant where they had dined.
Steven Dowell, a criminalist for the Los Angles County coroner's office, told of testing Blake's clothing and boots for gunshot residue.
Dowell said the boots and clothes were bundled together in a box. He showed the shiny black leather boots to the jury and said he found "one highly specific particle" of gunshot residue on them along with "several consistent particles."
He said the majority of particles contained only lead and not the other components of gunshot residue, and could have been produced by environmental factors.
The scientific experts were in agreement that gunshot residue often is widely dispersed and can be transferred easily from one item to another.
Criminalist Debra Kowal said that even if Blake had gunshot residue particles on his hands, they could have come from other sources such as the gun and holster he was carrying that had no relationship to the crime.
Blake, the 71-year-old former star of the 1970s TV show "Baretta," (search) is on trial for murder in the death of Bakley. He had married Bakley shortly before her death after learning he had fathered her baby.
Blake said that on the night his wife was killed, he walked her to his car before returning to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he carried for protection but had left behind. He said he found Bakley bleeding from gunshot wounds when he got back to the car.