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Christian Brando Refuses to Testify

Times Staff Writer

Marlon Brando’s son Christian took the 5th Amendment at Robert Blake’s civil trial Tuesday, refusing to answer nearly two dozen questions about the murder of the actor’s wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.

With his lawyer, Bruce M. Margolin, at his side, an uneasy Brando confirmed his voice on a tape of a conversation, in which he could be heard telling Bakley: “You’re lucky somebody ain’t out there to [put] a bullet in your head.”

But Brando, who was romantically involved with Bakley, refused to answer questions about that or other statements on the tape or about the couple’s relationship.

Los Angeles police investigated and cleared Brando of any involvement in Bakley’s fatal shooting on a Studio City street on May 4, 2001, after she dined with Blake at a restaurant. A Van Nuys jury acquitted Blake of murder charges earlier this year.

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Bakley’s family members are trying to hold Blake liable for the death and win a monetary judgment. Blake’s lawyer, Peter Q. Ezzell, was trying to deflect attention from his client by reviving allegations that Brando was implicated in the death.

Margolin said his client did not answer most of the attorneys’ questions because he did not want to open a “Pandora’s box” that would make his personal life the focus of the trial. Brando spent five years in prison for manslaughter after shooting and killing Dag Drollet, the lover of his half-sister Cheyenne, at Marlon Brando’s family home in Los Angeles.

Brando also did not want to subject himself to further criminal inquiry based on statements he made in court that could be taken “out of context,” Margolin added.

“The defense apparently is trying to imply that he [Brando] is involved,” Margolin said outside court. “He does not in any way want to be implicated in this attempt.”

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District attorney’s office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said she didn’t know why Brando invoked his 5th Amendment right.

“That’s between him and his attorney,” Gibbons said. “As far as the murder of Ms. Bakley, we filed charges based on the evidence we had, there was a trial and the jury saw the case other than we did.”

Margolin said his client was saddened by Bakley’s death and wished he could help the family “get due process.”

Bakley had a baby girl in June 2000, named her Christian Shannon Brando and led Brando to believe he was the father. A paternity test later established that Blake was the father and the baby’s name was changed to Rose Sophia Lenore Blake.

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