Bonny and the Lawyer
Los Angeles "palimony" attorney Cary Goldstein (left), who represented Bonny Bakley when she tried to negotiate a marriage with Robert Blake, was sworn in on the afternoon of the 25th.
Bakley, Goldstein testified, had come to him for advice when presented with a custody agreement and prenuptial document prepared by Blake. But, he continued, he had advised the woman to sign neither of the contracts.
"It was an extraordinarily lopsided agreement," said Goldstein. "I’d never seen an agreement so devoid of compensation to one of the parties."
The prenuptial, Goldstein asserted, "totally stripped her of her rights — community property, separate property." And the custody agreement was, in his words, "a setup for disaster for her.... [Blake and his lawyers] were setting up a condition for her to lose custody of the child." He also called the agreements "abusive and controlling" and said, "I would never allow a client to sign off on this."
Goldstein, however, was unable to deter Bakley from siging the agreements against his advice. Asked by Schwartzbach if she'd put her name on the agreements as sworn promises, Goldstein hedged, saying at first that they were just form language, but then, with his voice lowered, he acknowledged, "Yes, she signed."
Goldstein continued to speak out on Bakley's behalf after her death, accusing Blake of being behind the shooting long before the actor's 18 April 2002 arrest. Ultimately, though, the Bakley family dismissed him and replaced him with a civil attorney, Eric Dubin, who attends the trial every day, talking to reporters whenever he can.
Goldstein, too, had a word for the media after his testimony in the case. "She had been chasing celebrities all her life and she wasn’t going to give this up," he said, talking about Bakley. "Bonnie wanted to marry a celebrity and she did it."
Colin Yamauchi, the first to take the stand the morning of the 25th, testified about gunshot residue tests performed on Blake's 1991 Dodge Stealth, the car in which Bonny Bakley was sitting when she was fatally shot the evening of 4 May 2001.
Yamuchi also said he did the test-firing of the gun, after having cleaned it of gunshot residue as well as possible with rubbing alcohol. He fired the gun with two times of ammunition - bullets with and without lead. Even without lead in the ammo, the gun produced particles that contained the three elements of gunshot residue - he lead, barium and antimony. The tests revealed that the murder weapon was capable of depositing highly specific gunshot residue (GSR) particles, something that was virtually lacking in the tests done on Blake and his clothing following the shooting.
Gunshot residue particles are considered "specific" when they contain the three elements. This means that they can be positively identified as GSR. But firearms can also produce lead-only particles, which are "consistent" with GSR - in other words, they can be GSR - but they can be from other sources.
Yamuchi also told the court he had sampled four specific areas of the car for GSR - the right (passenger side) window sill, the weather strip on the passenger door, the headliner above the passenger seat, and the seat itself. He recited the number of particles found in each of the four areas of the car - in each case the amount of residue was considerable, but out of 200 GSR "specific" and "consistent" particles, there was only one particle that contained lead only.
Clearly, this will be used by the defense to show that the gunshot residue that would have been found on Blake had he fired the gun would be not just far greater than what was actually found, but also of a different composition.
Samuels, in an attempt to undermine the effectiveness of the GSR tests for the defense case, suggested to Yamauchi that a simulation of the crime could not produce valid results if the ammunition used in the test been from a different stock as the crime bullets. But Yamauchi did not agree with her premise. Such tests, he said, would be valid as long as the test bullets were manufactured using the same formula as those used in the crime.
Yamauchi also was asked by detectives to test for GSR two sweaters found in the back seat of Blake's car the night of the murder. They hoped that the tests would yield evidence that Blake had fired the gun using one or both as a silencer to muffle the sound. No one reported hearing the shots that night, despite the fact that it the crime took place on a quiet residential street where windows were open and people were awake.
Finally, the prosecution seemed to conceded that the GSR tests did nothing to establish Blake as the shooter.
Samuels: Is there any way to say whether those [particles] came from handling his own gun or firing another weapon?
Yamauchi: You can't tell.
Samuels: There's no way?
Yamauchi: There's no way to say.
Like other forensics experts, Yamauchi told the court that gunshot residue can easily transfer from surface to surface and may stay on clothing for years.
Three police officers - Karen Crawford, Hollis Averbuck-Berdein, and Maria Frommling - were also called to the stand to state that Bakley had filed a "child stealing" report with the police on October 2nd, 2000. Three days later, on the 5th, Bonny called them back and said the problem had been resolved. The case was then closed.
Frederico Sicard, a detective from the LAPD's fugitive division, testified that he spoke to Blake about Bakley and her brother. The actor had insisted, Sicard testified under direct examination, that Bakley's brother Joey was involved in the murder of an undercover narcotics agent in New York. But, according to Sicard, the matter was investigated by his deparment and they found no warrant for the arrest of Bonny's brother.
Blake also told the detective about Bakley pressuring him to marry her under threat that she would go to the news media and tell her story. He also talked about how Bakley was an unfit mother and that he wanted custody of their child. He said he had offered Bakley $250,000 to turn over custody to him, but she refused, according to the detective.
Sicard was not cross-examined.
The court also heard from a defense witness, Katherine Rose Doehring, who was called out of order because she plans to leave the country soon to study abroad. Doehring was a neighbor of the defendant in 2001 when he still lived on Dilling Street in Studio City. She was 17 years ago at the time of the Bakley shooting.
Schwartzbach was allowed only to ask her if Blake had approached her about two or three weeks before the murder and asked if she'd noticed a black pickup truck sitting for long periods of time on Blake's side of the street. Doehring confirmed that Blake had talked to her about it. But she wasn't asked by either side whether she'd actually seen the vehicle.