Blake's Moves After Slaying Are Described

Times Staff Writers

Turning to the critical minutes after the crime, a detective testified Tuesday that actor Robert Blake asked a neighbor to call an ambulance for his dying wife, then returned to the restaurant where the couple had dined a few minutes earlier to find a doctor.

Blake told police that before the shooting, he had gone back to Vitello's restaurant to get a handgun he had forgotten at his table, and when he returned to his car he found Bonny Lee Bakley slumped over the passenger seat, bleeding from the head.

The former "Baretta" star is charged with fatally shooting Bakley, 44, on May 4, 2001, sometime between 9:23 p.m., when his credit card was swiped to pay for their dinner, and 17 minutes later, at 9:40 p.m., when the 911 call was made from a neighbor's house.

The 69-year-old actor has been held without bail at Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles since his April 18, 2002 arrest on suspicion of murder, two counts of soliciting murder and conspiring with co-defendant Earle S. Caldwell to commit murder.

Los Angeles Police Det. Robert Bub testified Tuesday, the eighth day of Blake's preliminary hearing, that neither of the restaurant's co-owners recalled seeing Blake walk back to his favorite booth in the rear of the dining room to pick up a handgun. Nor did either of the two waitresses that Bub interviewed the day after the slaying.

On cross-examination, Bub said owner Joseph Restivo told police that Blake could have returned to his table without being noticed.

Restivo told police, "I was dealing with other people. I don't know if he went back or not," according to Bub's testimony.

During a police interview, Sean Stanek, who lives near the restaurant, said Blake knocked on his door and asked him to call for help because his wife was injured across the street in his parked car.

Blake said, "Oh my God! Oh my God!. You gotta help her!. She's bleeding! She's bloody!" Stanek told police, according to Bub.

While Stanek was talking to the 911 operator, Blake told him he was returning to Vitello's to make a phone call, the detective testified. When Blake returned to the crime scene, Stanek said the actor was crying on the curb and "shaking like crazy," according to Bub.

The actor told Stanek that Bakley had been afraid so he carried a handgun, which he turned over to police at the crime scene. "God. God. I knew this was going to happen," he told Stanek, according to the detective's testimony.

Criminologist Michael Mastrocovo also testified Tuesday that the weapon that killed Bakley, a Walther P-38 pistol, was found in the days after the crime, when the commercial Dumpster in front of Blake's car was transported to a Sun Valley landfill and its contents emptied.

The preliminary hearing will determine if enough evidence exists to hold Blake and Caldwell for trial. The judge also will decide if Blake should be granted bail.

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