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Blake Pleads 'Not Guilty' - 2002-04-23

The actor Robert Blake has pleaded "not guilty" to the murder of his wife, Bonny Bakley. Prosecutors filed charges against Blake and his bodyguard in Los Angeles Monday. If convicted, the actor could face the death penalty.

The district attorney's complaint said Robert Blake was the trigger-man in the shooting death of his wife, who died in his parked car near a Los Angeles restaurant. Blake, who is 68, is best known for his starring role in the 1970s detective series Baretta.

The actor is accused of two counts of solicitation of murder, conspiracy, and murder with the special circumstance of "lying in wait." If convicted, that makes him liable for a possible death sentence. Blake's bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

The District Attorney's complaint said in May of last year, the actor and his wife ate at the restaurant and then returned to his car. There, the complaint says, he shot her twice with an unregistered World War II-vintage handgun.

Authorities said Blake had earlier asked two people to kill his wife and both refused.

The victim's sister, Margery Bakley, said her sister, Bonny, knew she was in danger. She said, "My sister told me all the time, 'he's going to kill me. I know he's going to kill me,' and I told her, 'he's coming to kill you.' I mean, their relationship was just not good."

Robert Blake's lawyer insisted his client is innocent and that the killer is still at large.