Detective: Author given access to Blake investigation
Second stuntman: Actor 'used the word 'snuff''
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- One of the Los Angeles police detectives leading the investigation into the killing of actor Robert Blake's wife testified Friday that an author and reporter for the Los Angeles Times was with police as they processed the crime scene and went along on several interviews.
During a preliminary hearing Friday, LAPD Det. Ronald Ito said police have been providing Miles Corwin information to write a book about Bonny Lee Bakley's killing from the time her body was found May 5, 2001, until the most recent time he and the writer spoke, two weeks ago.
Ito testified that he once introduced Corwin as his "partner," but when the potential witness asked for identification, Ito acknowledged that Corwin wasn't with the LAPD.
CNN reported several months ago that Corwin was at the crime scene and had been given access to evidence before defense attorneys. LAPD played down the story, saying it had no bearing on the integrity of the investigation.
Blake's attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., worked to show otherwise Friday as he questioned Ito about the author, with whom LAPD has cooperated on other crimes.
The defense attorney pounded away at whether Corwin's presence could have "contaminated" evidence -- a suggestion Ito adamantly denied, though he acknowledged that Corwin had occasionally been out of his sight. He said he was positive that the crime scene had been secured and Corwin hadn't touched anything without permission.
'You weren't there'
"How do you know? You weren't there," Mesereau kept repeating.
Ito also acknowledged that Corwin never wore plastic gloves at the crime scene or during the search at Blake's house. He also testified about a videotape police made when they searched Blake's property, saying it was merely a fluke that the tape showed everyone there except Corwin.
Blake, 69, is charged with murder in the death of Bakley, who was shot in the head as she sat in their car outside a restaurant in Studio City where they had just eaten. He could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted.
Mesereau also asked Ito what kind of "gain" would he get if Blake was convicted. Ito said he would get nothing.
Mesereau then asked whether Ito had ever told someone he worked on the O.J. Simpson case but never got on TV. Ito acknowledged that he had said that. The detective is not related to Judge Lance Ito, who presided over Simpson's criminal trial
The attorney also asked whether Ito knew of anyone writing a book in which Ito would be depicted as a main character.
Book due before trial
After a verbal tug-of-war, Ito acknowledged that Corwin is writing a book about Bakley's killing and that the book will be published before the case can go to trial.
"Will bringing Mr. Corwin around get you in a book or a movie?" Mesereau asked.
"A book for sure," Ito said.
The detective said he didn't seek out Corwin. Former Police Chief Bernard Parks had told robbery-homicide detectives to help Corwin in his research, Ito said.
The detective also said Corwin was at the crime scene before he got there and that the author accompanied police on a search of Blake's house.
A box of 9 mm bullets, with three bullets missing, was confiscated during that search.
Mesereau established that Ito had shown the box to Corwin, along with other evidence at the house.
Ito also acknowledged that LAPD experts later determined the bullets taken from Blake's house did not match the three bullets found at the crime scene.
Mesereau also asked if it was a coincidence that three bullets were missing from the box at Blake's house and three bullets were found at the crime scene, but quickly withdrew the question.
Blake has said he is innocent.
In the afternoon session, the prosecution called to the stand Ronald Hambleton, a former stuntman who says Blake asked him to get rid of Bakley.
"He used the word 'snuff,'" Hambleton said.
"In reference to what?" the prosecution asked.
"Getting rid of her," he answered, saying that the subject came up when he met with Blake to discuss what he thought was an idea for a television program.
Thursday, stuntman Gary McLarty had testified that Blake offered him $10,000 to kill his wife and presented scenarios to "dispose" of her, including one that eerily resembled the way in which she was killed a few months later.
A former detective said Wednesday in court that the actor approached him with a scheme to kidnap Bakley and abort the baby she was carrying, or, if that failed, to "whack her."
The preliminary hearing is being held to determine whether there's enough evidence for a trial. Preliminary hearings often are one- or two-day sessions in which authorities outline a bare-bones sketch of their case -- just enough to justify a trial.
Prosecutors promised, though, they were going to put everything on the table during this hearing.
Bakley's family has also filed a civil suit against Blake. A federal judge ruled Friday that the civil suit cannot proceed until the criminal procedure ends.
--CNN correspondent Charles Feldman contributed to this report.