Blake's attorney 'shocked' by arrests
Says his client is 'serene' and 'happy.'
(CNN) -- Actor Robert Blake pleaded not guilty Monday to charges including first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Bonny Bakley. His attorney, Harland Braun, spoke to CNN's Larry King by phone Monday night.
KING: What do we mean by an arraignment compared to a preliminary hearing?
BRAUN: It's just where you are initially charged and plead not guilty. At a preliminary hearing, they provide evidence.
KING: And bail is set, if bail is set, when?
BRAUN: Well, there is no bail because it's a capital offense. We reserved the right to make a bail motion on May 1.
KING: Is there usually a week difference between arraignment and preliminary hearing?
BRAUN: No. Usually in a case like this it could be months. This next date is just a date to set a preliminary hearing. So I would estimate it might be months away depending on the amount of evidence we're given.
KING: This would mean trial is how far away?
BRAUN: My guess would be this year sometime. A preliminary hearing given 35,000 pages and 900 exhibits is probably four months away and depending on what happens there [are] another four months to trial. By the end of the year.
KING: What's the mood of your client?
BRAUN: He's very serene. He is very happy. Mrs. Margerry Bakley [Bonny's sister] has said she's not going to try to take Rosie away from Delinah Blake [Robert Blake's daughter by a previous marriage], who's raising her. That was one of his goals, as you know, throughout the whole unfortunate relationship was to maintain that Rosie would be raised in a moral environment. So that's really made him very, very happy.
KING: Harland, have you ever reconsidered some of the ways, you've been very strong in putting the victim on trial, in a sense. You even said that you might have considered murder had you been in Blake's situation.
BRAUN: I would have thought about it. I wouldn't have done it. But no, I don't, and I'll tell you why. I feel sad about it because I love Rosie. Robert's more than a client, he's a friend, and I'm talking about Rosie's mother. So if you put it that way, you can see. But the problem is that the character, the background, the history of a victim of murder is always a clue as to who has a motive to kill him. In this particular case, Bonny Lee's background was so sordid and so difficult and there were so many victims of her criminal activities that you can't overlook it. And of course it also fits in because this was Robert Blake's motive for marrying Bonny, because he did not want Rosie to slip into this lifestyle. So, you know what? I have to do my job and I didn't do it just for the sake of wounding the dead. I do it because it's relevant.
KING: Can you understand, Harland, why your client would be a prime suspect?
BRAUN: Absolutely. Any time you have a woman that is murdered and there's not a rape or robbery, the lover, the boyfriend, the husband, is the No. 1 on the list. And so statistically the police are going on probabilities. It's our position that this is not a probability, this is a specific case.
KING: I have read the prosecution's complaint. It seems very strong. I guess all complaints look very strong upon reading. But it deals with alleged other plots. Attempts maybe to kill her when she was in Arizona.
KING: Another suspect unknown. What do you make of the complaint?
BRAUN: What I make of it -- and maybe I'm being Pollyanna-ish right now -- is that if they had a strong case they 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 and prove that he murdered her. You wouldn't be throwing in subplots, other people who claim they talked to him. I read it as a weakness in their case. But, you know what? Time will tell. I haven't seen their evidence, so I'm really not in a great position to tell it until the end of the week.
KING: They're claiming that [Earle] Caldwell [Blake's bodyguard] conspired in this. We all know he was in San Francisco that night, right?
BRAUN: That's right.
KING: So the prosecution is saying he did what?
BRAUN: It appears that they're saying he was involved in an aborted conspiracy of some type that did not result in Bonny's death -- very odd -- and then in unrelated solicitations. Then they're saying Robert Blake personally killed her. That's what the purport of what they're saying is. But when you look at the charges, it makes no sense. But some of the charges that they're saying, things that occurred had three witnesses: Earle, Robert and Bonny. Who's going to be their witness to those events? Obviously there is no witness to some of these charges.
KING: Do you think they're hoping Earle will turn?
BRAUN: Yeah. I think what they did is, threw him in jail, held him on $1 million bail, trying to make him say what they want. He's been very cooperative. He's given them numerous interviews. But they don't like what he has to say. What he has to say is not consistent with their theory.
KING: Wait a minute. Are you saying the prosecutors are trying to make him fit a theory that may not have happened?
BRAUN: Well, he says it didn't happen. They say it did happen. It's their theory. This is not -- I'm not criticizing them. This is standard operating procedure for prosecutors. They develop a theory. They then threaten people with jail if they don't give testimony that's consistent with their theory.
KING: How about the fact the police searched the properties after last week's arrests, which took place nearly a year after the crime?
BRAUN: I think what happened there was that Chief [Bernard] Parks wanted to have a press conference as his swan song. So I think what happened is the police jumped the gun by a couple of weeks embarrassing the DA, putting them in a jam, and basically shocking me. Shocking me because I expected a phone call from the chief investigator at some point saying, "We have concluded our investigation, we would like to take another statement of Robert Blake." And that would have put me in the position of saying either no, which then they could say, "He wouldn't talk to us," or yes, and they would have had an opportunity to confront Robert with all kinds of things that they have developed over the last year. It was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. And I thought that's what would signal the conclusion of their investigation.
KING: Why don't you want cameras?
BRAUN: I don't want them in this case because I think that in Hollywood cases, witnesses are going to grandstand. They're going to try to elaborate on stories to look good. They'll make up stories just to be part of Hollywood. Some witnesses will just be afraid to come into court because they don't want to be embarrassed on national television. Average cases are fine. Local cases, maybe fine. But this kind of case it's just too dangerous that it may affect the witnesses.
KING: Bonny Lee's side says you want to block the cameras so the public only gets one side of the case, the thrashing of the victim.
BRAUN: No. I'm not saying that people can't comment, talk about the case outside court or not I'm not saying there can't be the written media in there. I just think the television medium is so strong and so immediate that witnesses are highly affected by it. They're not affected by, say, the newspaper reporters.
KING: Apparently, Caldwell kept a list of some sort. Does that look damaging to you?
BRAUN: Yeah, when I first saw it a year ago, I thought it was damaging. At the time I sat down with him. He sat down with the police and explained that he does, you know work. He did work, construction work around the properties, and that he was cleaning a pool and what initially looks like a shocking list has an innocent explanation. He's already explained it to police. They just don't like his explanation.
KING: He has his own attorney, right?
BRAUN: Right. Separate lawyer.
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