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Bonny Lee Bakley sample essay

In May 4, 2001, Bonny Lee Bakley, wife of Robert Blake, was found dead in the passenger seat of Blake’s car. The facts based on the investigation of the police are as follows: Robert Blake and Bonny Lee Bakley have just had dinner and are on their way to Blake’s car parked just outside the Italian restaurant Vitello. Blake returned to the restaurant which was a few blocks away after he remembered that he left his licensed firearm inside the restaurant. When he returned, he found his wife shot in the head. There was no eyewitness. There was no confession.

Subsequently, charges for murder and two counts of solicitation of murder were filed against Blake. According to the prosecution, Blake killed his wife to keep their 4-year old daughter away from Bakley. It appeared that Bakley had been engaged in mail-order porn business and lonely hearts scams in the past. She also had enemies after he defrauded some individuals. Prosecutors attempted to prove that Blake initially persuaded two former stuntmen to kill Bakley but they refused prompting Blake to kill Bakley himself. The Defense team however argued that there was no direct evidence that will link Blake to the murder of Bakley.

In view of the nature of the controversy, the pieces of evidence that will play an important role in the resolution of the dispute are: physical evidence and testimonial evidence. In general, documentary evidence also plays an important role in criminal trials, however, it was not important in this case.

Physical evidence refers to any tangible object that may be used to prove a particular fact. An example of physical evidence is the murder weapon used to kill the victim such as the gun or the knife. In this case, the physical evidence is 9mm Walther P-38 which was found the following day thrown into a dumpster near the front of Blake’s car. Under the rules of admissibility, this piece of evidence is relevant to the case as it tends to prove or disprove who killed Bonny Lee Blake.

It is also material because it will establish whether the murder weapon was used and fired by Robert Blake, the primary suspect. The evidence however was rendered incompetent by the court since examination showed that while the gun was fired, there was no fingerprint on it indicative of the fact that the murderer was wearing thick glove (Lisa Sweetingham, 2005, “Jurors see gritty crime scene photos in actor Robert Blake’s murder trial p.2). For this reason, this evidence was not useful at all for the prosecution.

Testimonial evidence is the kind of evidence that makes use of testimonies of competent witnesses to prove a particular fact. In this case, testimonial evidence of Ronald Hambleton and Gary McLarty were presented in court to prove that Robert Blake solicited their help to murder Bakley. These pieces of evidence are both relevant and material to the case as it tends to prove the allegation of a fact, that is, Blake is guilty of solicitation of murder.

This evidence was however considered by the court to be incompetent because the defense successfully introduced its own testimonial evidence that will prove that their testimonies are not reliable. According to some of the jurors, they found the testimony of Hambleton incompetent because he had prior history of drug-influenced delusional behavior (Sweetingham, 2005, “Actor Robert Blake acquitted of his wife’s murder”, p.3). McLarty’s testimony was also questioned based on the testimony of his wife and child that his years of cocaine abuse had made him paranoid and delusional (Sweetingham, 2005, “Actor Robert Blake acquitted of his wife’s murder”, p.3).

The testimony of expert witness was likewise presented in this case. Steven Dowell of the LA County Department of Coroner was asked to testify about the presence of gun-shot residue. According to Dowell, he found the presence of gunshot residue (GSR) on the clothes Blake was wearing on the night of the murder.

While the evidence was both relevant and material as his testimony tends to prove the possibility that Robert Blake may have murdered his wife, its competence was however not given very much weight by the court in view of his additional testimony that mere presence of GSR not coupled by additional evidence does not prove that Blake was responsible for the shooting and that it is possible that Robert Blake may have picked up the GSR from guns other than the murder weapon.

As a result, in 2005, Robert Blake was finally acquitted for murder charges in view of the failure of the prosecution to prove its case (Greg Risling, 2005, p.1). The said decision is based on the lack of direct evidence that will directly link Blake to the murder of his wife and the unreliability of the testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses.


Risling, Greg. (2005). “Actor Robert Blake Acquitted of Murder.” AP Online. 2005. Retrieved

March 22, 2009 from HighBeam Research:

Sweetingham, Lisa. (2005). “Jurors see gritty crime scene photos in actor Robert Blake’s murder

trial.” Retrieved 22 March 2009, from:

Sweetingham, Lisa (2005). “Actor Robert Blake acquitted of his wife’s murder.”

Retrieved 22 March 2009, from:

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