After the Shooting
Mary Beth Rennie
As court resumed after a holiday break, prosecution witness Mary Beth Rennie told the court that she and her companion, a medical doctor with emergency room experience, were walking down a quiet residential street near the crime scene when they heard Blake pounding on a neighbor's door and crying, "Someone call 911. My wife's head is bleeding." She said that Blake's crying at the scene seemed forced. "The noise level got louder and louder," Rennie said. "Definitely toward the end of the night, as more people gathered, it got louder."
Like her doctor companion, James "Mike" McCoy, Rennie admitted that McCoy had done nothing whatever to help Bakley before the ambulance arrived, and did not even identify himself as a doctor as the two of them watched from the sidelines. She acknowledged that she and McCoy had been lovers at the time of the murder, but said they were no longer involved with each other that way. It was implied that neither wanted to be part of the investigation for fear that word of their affair would reach McCoy's wife.
Rennie was asked by Schwartzbach, "Did you ever suggest to Dr. McCoy that he go over and help?"
Answer: "Dr. McCoy barely said anything the whole night. He was deep in concentration."
Schwartzbach: "Deep in concentration, huh?"
Rennie also admitted on Cross-examination that in the immediate aftermath of the murder, she had described Blake as "frantic" in a police interview.
Steve Restivo, George Brumbly
Steve Restivo, co-owner of Vitello's with brother Joe Restivo, testified very briefly. He said that Blake had called ahead earlier that day and changed his reservation from eight o'clock to eight thirty, and that Blake and Bakley appeared perfectly normal when they ate dinner. He said that he never saw Blake running to the men's room and that he had no knowledge of any vomit being in the trash can there.
George Brumley, a waiter at Vitello's, appeared to be a reluctant witness at best. He said he didn't have a conversation with Blake while he was dining at the restaurant, but that he only spoke to him about his order. Brumbly added that he has a policy of not getting into offhand coversations with celebrity guests.
He said Blake seemed normal and there was nothing strange about his behavior. He recalled seeing Blake leaving the restroom at one point with something sticking out of his mouth that appeared to be a lollypop. He also observed Blake run his hand through his hair in a casual manner, something he said got his attention because he, Brumbly, is bald. (The relevance of that testimony is that another witness is expected to testify that he saw Blake tearing at his hair as if in a state of extreme anxiety.)
Capt. Lawrence Jackson
Capt. Lawrence Jackson, a paramedic and firefighter who responded to the 911 call testified that he arrived at the scene to find Robert Blake "rather hysterical." Blake was was sitting on the curb a few feet from the car, and Jackson testified that he saw Blake vomit.
He also told the court that Blake didn't ask if he could ride in the ambulance when Bakley was taken to the hospital. But on cross-examination, he said there were several people in the ambulance and called it crowded. Asked if Blake would have been allowed to go along, he answered that he would not because there wasn't room for him.
On the 5th of January, Samuels called to the stand Robin Robichaux (sketch at lower right), a waitress at Vitello's who has served Blake, in her words, "hundreds" of times. She testified that Blake appeared relaxed and normal during dinner, but that when she saw him after the killing, she could tell something terrible had happened.
"He aged 50 years in 10 or 15 minutes," Robichaux testified. "The color had left his face, he was white as a sheet, and he was out of breath." She added that he stood at the doorway and asked for a doctor. "It frightened me. I thought he was having a heart attack," said the waitress.
She also told jurors that when Blake came into the restaurant after Bakley was shot and called out for a doctor, she rushed him two glasses of water, one with ice and one without, so he could drink whichever he wanted.
Robichaux said it made her "very angry" that news reports had falsely attributed to her a statement that Blake never before made reservations at Vitello's until the night Bakley was killed, and she explained to the court that she and other employees had taken calls from him before when he wanted his table reserved.
Robichaux could not remember if the table where Blake and Bakley had been seated was bussed immediately after the two left the restaurant. But she testified that there had been times when patrons left things behind and busboys failed to notice them when the tables were cleared.
Four Police Officers
Also on the 5th of January, the prosecution called four police officers who had taken part in a search of Blake's residence. The first was Detective James Gollaz, a 25-year veteran of the LAPD's robbery-homicide division. He was followed by Detective Samer E. Issa and Officers Walter Grant and Oswaldo Pedamonte.
Detective Gollaz was grilled by Schwartzbach over his handling of evidence taken from the defendant's home. Under cross-examination, Gollaz admitted that he taken Blake's clothing, found to contain traces of gunshot residue, in a carboard box without a lid which was kept in the trunk of car for two days it was booked as evidence. The box, Gollaz conceded, was not a proper evidence box, but rather a carton that contained photocopy paper.
The detective's testimony also revealed that guns had been placed in the trunk and might have contaminated the articles of clothing that were taken from the defendant. Gollaz said that the lead investigator working on the case instructed him shortly after the murder to leave a clean shirt in the trunk of the same car and to drive around for a few days to see if gushot residue would adhere to the shirt. The result of the test was not disclosed.
The detective testified that he had been sent to Blake's home the morning after the murder to get Blake's clothing, saying it was his impression that a search warrant had been issued. He admitted, however, that he never saw one. And he also stated that he didn't ask Blake if the items taken from him that day were the same ones he had worn the night before. "I don't specifically remember asking him if it was the same clothing," said Gollaz. "I hoped and assumed it was the same clothing."
The presence of book author Miles Corwin during the investigation posed real problems for the prosecution at Blake's preliminary hearing almost two years ago. And Schwartzbach made it clear that it is no less important an issue at the trial, firing at Gollaz questions about how search warrants are obtained and whether a search warrant permits civilians to take part in searches of private homes.
Detective Issa testified briefly about Blake's appearance at the crime scene. He recalled the defendant vomitting on a curb and described him as "very emotional." At one point, Blake said that someone had tried to kill Bakley a couple of years before and blamed himself for what happened. Grant talked about taking Blake to the North Hollywood police station, where the actor complained that he was having trouble breathing. And Pedamonte confirmed that Blake looked haggard and dirty in the aftermath of the shooting, and commented that the actor's pant legs were covered with mud.