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Blake behind bars after arrest in wife's slaying

Blake being led into police headquarters in Los Angeles Thursday.  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Robert Blake remained behind bars Friday after Los Angeles police said investigators found "compelling and significant" evidence implicating the actor in the shooting death of his wife last May.

Police arrested Blake at his home in the gated community of Hidden Hills on Thursday evening, saying they had evidence he shot and killed his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, outside a North Hollywood restaurant.

The 68-year-old actor was transferred to the jail's hospital section Friday morning, but authorities and Blake's attorneys said the move is a common security and safety consideration for high-profile inmates and that he does not need medical care.

Guards check the 10- by 10-foot cell, the same one that once held actor Robert Downey Jr., every 15 minutes through a small window in the door, but LAPD Cmdr. Gary J. Brennan insisted that Blake is not on suicide watch.

"He's being well-treated and he's getting his regular medications," Harland Braun, the actor's attorney, said after visiting his client Friday afternoon for the first time since the arrest. "He said it's ... like some of the parts that he's played."

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Meanwhile, police executed a search warrant at Blake's sister's home Friday, where he had been staying with Rosie, his nearly 2-year-old daughter with Bakley.

Authorities also searched the Burbank apartment of Blake's handyman and bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, who was also arrested Thursday in connection with Bakley's killing. Braun also said police searched the California desert home of one the actor's friends, whom police did not identify.

Investigators recovered papers, computers and weapons, but police did not provide any further details.

Police said they will present their case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office Monday morning and Blake could be arraigned later in the day. Blake is currently being held without bail, while Caldwell is being held at the LAPD headquarters on $1 million bail, Brennan said.

Blake will face two counts of solicitation of murder and one count of murder with special circumstances -- a charge that could lead to the death penalty, Brennan said.

"Robert Blake shot Bonny Bakley," Police Capt. Jim Tatreau said at a news conference Thursday night. "We believe his motive is that Robert Blake had contempt for Bonny Bakley. He felt that he was trapped in a marriage that he wanted no part of."

Police say they believe Blake, the star of the 1970s detective series "Baretta," tried to hire someone to kill his wife of six months and, failing that, pulled the trigger himself.

Caldwell was arrested "for conspiracy to commit murder of Ms. Bakley," Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks said.

Blake lawyer: 'The real killer is still out there'

Speaking after the LAPD news conference, Blake's attorney said his client always "impressed me as maintaining his innocence but being very calm about it."

"He says, 'I'm a father, I've lived almost 70 years, I'm going to face what I have to face,'" Braun said, who added that Blake's main concern was making sure Bakley's family does not gain custody of his young daughter.

"I believe the real killer is still out there," Braun said. "This is a very strange situation, and I'm not trying to besmirch (Bakley), but the woman had an extensive history, and there are people in her past that have made threats to her, people with motives."

Bonny Lee Bakley had been married to Blake for six months at the time of her killing.  

Following an extensive investigation, police said they obtained arrest warrants against Blake and Caldwell on Thursday morning. Both men were taken into custody around 6 p.m. (9 p.m. EDT).

Cary Goldstein, the attorney for the late Bakley and members of her family, said he was pleased with the arrest.

"After thousands and thousands of hours of investigation by the LAPD, they have concluded that Robert Blake and Earle Caldwell are responsible for the death of Bonny Bakley," he told CNN.

"The police followed the lead and apparently it all fell into place. They have the evidence with which to do this," Goldstein said. "They're going to put on a thorough, competent case because they're not going to risk losing this."

The victim's sister, Margerry Bakley, said family members were "pleased with the LAPD and saddened just the same. We still lost Bonny and have not seen (Blake and Bakley's daughter) Rose."

Murder weapon found in garbage container

The 11-month police investigation examined 900 pieces of evidence, followed 150 tips and led investigators to 20 states, police said. Authorities discovered the murder weapon days after the shooting in a garbage container adjacent to the restaurant where the couple had eaten -- and near where Bakley was shot.

Blake, who portrayed a killer in the movie based on Truman Capote's classic "In Cold Blood," had told police his wife was in the car after the two dined together May 4 in a Studio City restaurant. He told police he went back into the restaurant to retrieve his gun, and that when he returned to the car he found his wife shot in the head.

But Joe Restivo, a co-owner of the restaurant Vitello's, told CNN Blake appeared to have retrieved nothing from the restaurant, but that he came in, drank two glasses of water and left. Restivo said Blake appeared flustered.

The story also swirled controversy last year because Blake's attorney went on the offensive, raising questions about Bakley's past, releasing recordings of her phone conversations to the news media and detailing her interest in celebrities.

Braun said the couple had a troubled relationship and that Blake had only married Bakley because she became pregnant with his daughter.

After calling Braun and asking him to prepare Blake for his arrest, police said that the actor was passive and cooperative when he was taken into custody wearing a white shirt and green baseball cap. Blake's grown daughter from a different marriage will look after the actor's young daughter, Braun and police said.

Braun said Friday that police arrested Blake nearly a year after they last talked to him.

Bakley daughter
Blake hugs his 11-month-old daughter Rosie during the funeral of her mother on May 25, 2001.  

"What do they have to lose by interviewing the suspect?" Braun said. "Either he's going to bury himself or exonerate himself."

LAPD deputy chief David Gascon said that, even given the enormous media crush, investigators were extremely thorough.

"The detectives have been rather meticulous in how they approached this," said Gascon, who was the police spokesman who announced that O.J. Simpson was a "fugitive" the night he was arrested before the now infamous police chase.

Blake stresses family

Blake, who has said little about the case, had long been the focus of the police investigation. He was interviewed early in the investigation as a witness to the crime, and police twice searched his home.

At his wife's funeral in late May 2001, Blake walked to the casket, placed his right hand on it and bowed his head. Someone handed him a white rose from the floral arrangement atop the casket.

"I stand before God to make this pledge," he said just before the casket was lowered, "As long as I have breath, I will do everything to make my daughter Rosie's life the best I can."

In the weeks after the slaying, bodyguard Caldwell told CNN the possibility that the actor may have been responsible for his wife's death "never even crossed my mind."

Caldwell said he and Blake did not discuss the killing: "We look at the sky, we watch the birds, we don't talk about it."




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