Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Murdered Bonny Lee Bakley?

Blake Arrested

On April 20, 2002, Court TV reported that Robert Blake and his bodyguard had been arrested in the shooting death of the actor's wife nearly a year ago, police said. Police officers took Blake into custody at a relative's home in Hidden Hills, a gated suburban community where the actor moved after Bonny Lee Bakley's death.

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

Police Chief Bernard Parks said detectives will ask prosecutors to charge Blake with one count of murder with special circumstances and two counts of solicitation of murder. Police will seek to have his bodyguard and chauffeur, Earle Caldwell, 46, charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

The chief said there was "physical and significant circumstantial evidence" but gave no details.

Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney, said prosecutors will review the case submitted by police and announce Monday whether they intend to file charges.

Blake has said that after dinner, he walked his wife to the car and then remembered that he left behind a gun he carried to protect her. He went back for it, he said, and when he returned to the car he found his wife shot.

His attorney, Harland Braun, said Thursday he did not know what evidence police had. Braun said everyone "who ever came in contact with her had a motive" to kill her.

Cary Goldstein, attorney for Bakley's family, said they were pleased with the arrests. He warned against any attempt by Blake's lawyer to raise questions about Bakley's behavior.

"I've said from the very beginning, there's nothing that Bonny ever did in her lifetime that justifies her having been murdered. Her wrongdoings were picayune, at best," he said.

Blake's lawyer, who was hired shortly after the killing, investigated the woman's past and came up with the theory that there were many men who might have wanted her dead.

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