Fingered by police in the slaying of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, the actor has been arrested, booked on suspicion of murder and will spend the weekend behind bars. On Monday, prosecutors will formally charge Blake in court with a murder count that police say could bring the death penalty.
As Blake was getting accustomed to his new digs on Friday, police were searching the house he shared with his adult daughter, Delinah, looking for more evidence.
They also picked through the apartment belonging to Blake's bodyguard, Earle Caldwell--who faces a count of conspiracy to commit murder--and removed boxes, a shotgun and two gun cases. All told, police said they retrieved computer equipment, files and weapons they believe are linked to the Bakley case.
Police also said a third location was searched in Southern California, but declined to release any further details. Los Angeles station KABC-TV reports police searched a desert residence belonging to one of Blake's friends.
The Blake drama played out live on television late into Thursday night, with commentators desperately trying to paint the case as the second coming of O.J. Simpson--complete with an unmarked white cop car shuttling Blake to the police station serving as a surrogate white Bronco.
But don't expect the Blake camp to bank on the "rush to judgment" card.
Police waited nearly a year after Bakley's May 2001 murder to arrest Blake. LAPD Chief Bernard Parks said detectives sifted through some 900 pieces of evidence and interviewed more than 150 witnesses in 20 states before feeling confident enough to obtain the arrest warrant for Blake and his 46-year-old bodyguard.
"The Bonnie Lee Bakley case is solved," Parks said at a Thursday-night news conference. "The LAPD case has developed both physical and significant circumstantial evidence that Robert Blake killed Bonny Bakley."
On Friday, Captain Jim Tatreau of the LAPD's robbery-homicide division said the department is requesting that a judge seal all evidence in the case. Apparently, police are hoping to avoid any embarassing O.J.-like leaks or accusations of botched detective work.
Tatreau says the department will make its case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office on Monday morning. Blake and Earle will then appear in a Van Nuys, California, courtroom Monday afternoon for arraignment. Blake will likely be charged with one count of murder with special cirumstances (for "lying in wait") and two counts of solicitation of murder for apparently trying to hire two different hitmen to carry out the shooting.
Until then, Blake will remain on the jail's hospital floor. Officials say the move was not due to any health issues, they merely wanted to keep him isolated from other perps--believing his celebrity status might make the 68-year-old an easy target. Because he faces a capital offense, Blake cannot post bail. Caldwell's bail was set at $1 million, but he, too, remains behind bars.
According to Tatreau, Blake had a simple motive for getting rid of his wife: "Robert Blake had contempt for Bonny Bakley. He felt that he was trapped in a marriage that he wanted no part of. Quite frankly, the entire situation was not one of his liking at all."
Or, as Margerry Bakley, the victim's sister, tells E!, "There was no love there. It was a sham from the beginning."
In an exclusive interview airing Monday at 8 p.m. on Robert Blake: The E! True Hollywood Story, Margerry Bakley outlines the couple's marriage, which she says was doomed from the moment they met in 1999 at a Los Angeles-area nightclub.
"[Bonny] wasn't really sure who he was, but she knew he was famous, and so she kind of kept her eye on him," Margerry explains to THS. "She said something went through her head that said, 'Don't let this one out of your sight because this is the one you're going to marry.'
"And that was her life's dream. Marry a movie star. Have a movie star's baby. It was right there, and she jumped on that...She thought that he would fall in love and they'd live happily ever after."
In June 2000, Bonny Bakley gave birth to a daugther, Rose. A DNA test was performed to make sure Blake was the father. Five months after the birth, the couple married. Shortly thereafter, Blake had Bakley move into a guest house on their property. The former Baretta star hired a nanny to take care of Rose and limited Bakley's access to the child.
Blake's lawyer has maintained his client's innocence, saying just because the actor had a bad marriage doesn't make him a killer. Harland Braun has portrayed Bakley as a scheming star-chaser who glommed onto Blake because of his celebrity. Braun has suggested that someone from Bakley's sordid past--she was a convicted felon who ran several scams--may have pulled the trigger.
"The real killer," he said Friday, "is still out there."