Robert Blake is pinning his hopes for freedom on a conspiracy theory.
A lawyer for the beleaguered Baretta star says that Blake's wife died as the result of a murder plot orchestrated by Christian Brando, son of the late Marlon, and his acquaintances and not at the hands of the actor, who is currently charged with her death.
Blake attorney Gerald Schwartzbach filed a motion Wednesday as a quest to present evidence that friends of Christian Brando were the culprits behind the 2001 murder of Bonnie Lee Bakley. The lawyer claims that Brando was motivated to kill Bakley after she showed him a picture of a baby and let him believe that it was his. DNA tests later showed the child was Blake's.
Schwartzbach claims that his client had nothing to do with the shooting death of his wife and that one of the prosecution's key witnesses, a friend of the troubled son of late actor Marlon Brando, along with several other people was the one who orchestrated her death.
"[The] evidence suggests that Ronald 'Duffy' Hambleton, one of the prosecution's two central witnesses, was in fact at the heart of the plot against Bonny Lee Bakley--a plot in which defendant Robert Blake did not participate," Schwartzbach said in the motion.
The court filing is a blueprint for an extremely complicated web of relationships, involving Brando, two stuntmen and two homeless people, that supposedly led to Bakely's death in May 2001.
During the preliminary hearing, Hambleton, a former stuntman, claimed he was hired by Blake off Bakely.
However, Schwartzbach says the blame lies entirely with Hambelton and Brando. The lawyer says the murder weapon was Hambleton's and that the gun was also ID'd by the stuntman's son.
Schartzbach has also unearthed three new witnesses to support the theory, one of whom says Hambelton offered the witness $10,000 for an unspecified "job."
This, combined with the fact that Blake had no gun residue on his hands after the shooting, is what Schwartzbach says should entirely acquit his client, whose murder trial is set to begin Nov. 1.
The Brando connection was first floated in February by former Blake attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. But Superior Court Judge Darlene Schemp refused allow the testimony of a possible Brando connection due to the lack of credibility of one of the witnesses.
Now Schwartzbach says new "evidence permits the inference that Ms. Bakley's murder was orchestrated by Mr. Hambleton," though it remains unclear whether it was done at the urging of Brando or in an effort to gain favor with him.
For now, Blake is still on the docket for the murder trial of Bakley, who was shot to death outside an Italian restaurant. Blake has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings and is currently free on bail and awaiting his trial.