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Police video glimpses Blake's house

From Charles Feldman
CNN Los Angeles Bureau

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- When Bonny Lee Bakley was shot in the head and killed last May outside of a Studio City restaurant, police initially denied that her husband, actor Robert Blake, was a suspect in the shooting.

Authorities waited almost a year to arrest Blake, who has been held without bail since April on charges he murdered Bakley.

Within 24 hours of the killing, however, police obtained a search warrant for the 68-year-old actor's home, which he called the Mata Hari Ranch. It was the only house searched in the early days of the investigation.

CNN recently obtained a copy of the videotape police made during the search. According to the tape, investigators made some surprising discoveries.

On the tape, detectives noted that Blake and Bakley, 44, did not live together, even though they had been married for six months. Blake lived in the main house with the couple's daughter Rosie and Bakley lived alone in the guesthouse.

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  •  Police video of Robert Blake's home
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  •  FindLaw: People vs. Blake (PDF)
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  •  Murder with special circumstances
  •  Solicitation of murder (2 counts)
  •  Murder conspiracy

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Blake began his acting career as a child in the "Our Gang" and "Red Ryder" movie serials. He starred in the 1970s television detective series "Baretta" and played condemned killer Perry Smith in the 1967 movie version of Truman Capote's nonfiction book "In Cold Blood."

But as police worked their way through his cluttered house, they saw little evidence of his Hollywood past.

They did see his gun collection hanging on a wall. Blake's attorney Harland Braun later argued that gunpowder residue found on Blake's clothes was meaningless since he often handled the weapons and was carrying a gun the night of the killing.

Then police started finding envelopes stuffed with $100 bills stashed around of Blake's house -- about $12,000 in all. Braun said Blake was a child of the 1930s Depression and liked to keep large sums of money on hand.

Prosecutors say Blake and his bodyguard Earle Caldwell tried to hire two stunt men to kill Bakley, but then Blake killed her himself when he was unable to hire someone to do the job. According to police, Blake had "contempt" for Bakley.

Caldwell was charged with conspiracy and is free on $1 million bond, which was paid by Blake.

Blake denied any involvement in the killing. Braun said someone from Bakley's "sordid past" might have wanted to kill her. He released tape-recorded telephone messages in which she described her interest in celebrities.

He said Bakley also solicited money from men across the country in exchange for nude photos and promises of sex. Braun said one of these men might have been angry enough to kill her.



 
 
 
 


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