Arraignment Delayed in Boys’ Deaths : Courts: Accused killer is recovering from brain surgery after suicide attempt and cannot enter plea in slaying of sons.


Still recovering from injuries as debilitating as his anguish, Robert Blahnik of San Pedro was given additional time Friday to enter a plea on charges that he shot and killed his two young sons last month before unsuccessfully attempting suicide.

As his mother and two sisters wept quietly in a San Pedro courtroom, the 34-year-old crane mechanic made only a brief appearance in a wheelchair. His head shaven for brain surgery that resulted from the Aug. 13 shooting, Blahnik anxiously rubbed at his scalp and craned his neck to listen to the proceedings before uttering only one word. “Yes,” he said, when Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron Geltz asked if he agreed to delay his arraignment until Sept. 29.

With that, Blahnik was wheeled out of the courtroom and taken back to the County-USC Medical Center jail ward while his loved ones rallied to survive a tragedy they still cannot comprehend.


“The family is . . . devastated,” Blahnik’s sister, Brenda, said outside the courtroom, her eyes red from crying.

Two weeks ago this weekend, during a family gathering in the house where he grew up, Blahnik left his parents, wife and others to take his two oldest sons for a short walk to the beach below Point Fermin in San Pedro.

Several hours later, Los Angeles police arrived at the house to tell the family that Blahnik was critically wounded and that his sons, Ryan, 6, and Michael, 4, were dead. Authorities say the boys were killed with a two-shot Derringer before Blahnik reloaded the weapon and shot himself once in the head. Although he was seriously injured, authorities say, Blahnik was not mortally wounded and dropped the gun into the surf before he could fire another round.

Since the shooting, family and friends have blamed Blahnik’s spiral into depression for the tragedy.

For at least five months, they say, the once-cheerful husband and father had been upset about his job on the docks of Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors.

After turning to two psychiatrists, a psychologist and medication including Prozac, his family and authorities say, Blahnik concluded that his depression was inherited. So, they say, he decided to shoot his sons to spare them from what he believed would be lives of despair.


Blahnik’s attorney, Mark E. Montpas, said no decision had been reached on how his client will plead in the case. Montpas said he had barely begun discussions with Blahnik, largely because of his client’s physical condition.

“At this point he is attempting to recover [but] he is having a difficult time speaking,” Montpas said. “His speech is slow and deliberate. He can’t hear out of his right ear or see out of his right eye.”

Notwithstanding the family’s contentions, authorities have said they will press forward with a double murder case.

“It is a very tragic case. It is something that is very sad for everybody involved,” Geltz said. “But it is something [where] we feel there is substantial evidence to show that this was the . . . intentional murder of these two children.”