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The charges against Robert Blake

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The charges against actor Robert Blake allege not only that he murdered his wife but also that he engaged in several failed murder plots involving hit men and his longtime bodyguard.

Blake, 68, pleaded not guilty Monday to one count of murder with special circumstances, two counts of solicitation of murder and one count of murder conspiracy. Bodyguard Earle Caldwell pleaded not guilty to one count of murder conspiracy.

According to the criminal complaint, Blake began plotting to kill Bonny Lee Bakley about months before she was shot to death outside an Italian restaurant.

The complaint says Blake had Caldwell, in early 2001, make a grisly list of items for use in the killing, including two shovels, a small sledge, a crowbar, a .25-caliber gun, old rugs, duct tape, Drano, pool acid and lye.

In March 2001, Blake tried to hire a hit man to hide in Blake's van and kill Bakley in a desert area, the complaint says. The hit man was told Caldwell would have already dug a grave to bury her in, it says.

Blake asked a second person to kill Bakley as she sat in a parked car somewhere near Bullhead City, Arizona, according to the complaint.

In both cases, he showed the men a small gun in a zippered case, which he said was untraceable, the complaint says.

The complaint says Blake suggested to both men that as a backup they could kill Bakley outside Vitello's Restaurant, the spot where she was ultimately killed. Blake took at least one of the men to the site, the complaint says.

Prosecutors say that in April 2001 Caldwell planned to kill Bakley during a trip to Parker, Arizona, and Three Rivers, California. That plot also failed.

On May 4, 2001, the complaint says, Blake shot Bakley twice with an unregistered vintage Walther P-38 automatic pistol while she sat in their car outside Vitello's restaurant.

After the shooting, prosecutors say Blake threw the gun into a nearby garbage container.

Blake's attorney, Harland Braun, said he had not seen the prosecution's evidence, so he did not know if the they had a strong case.

"If they had a strong case that he murdered her, they would say 'he murdered her on such and such a day, end of story. We're going to present the physical evidence to prove that he murdered her,'" Braun said. "You wouldn't be throwing in subplots, other people who claim they talked to him. I read it as a weakness in their case."




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