Investigators and Observers
Michael Dufficy and Robert Noel
On Tuesday the 11th, jurors heard from two Vitello's Italian restaurant regulars who had seen Blake dining with Bakley the night of the shooting, Michael Dufficy and Robert Noel.
Robert Noel testified that he'd noticed Blake during his time at the restaurant. "He seemed nervous and preoccupied," Noel said. "He was messing with his hair a lot, running his hands through his hair, pulling his hair down in the back." He claimed that he made a remark to Dufficy, his companion, about Blake being a "kook."
Noel also recalled Blake returning to the restaurant in a panic and asking for a doctor. He stated that Blake was "leaning over in the hallway saying he couldn't breathe," Shortly after that, Noel continued, he saw Blake go "flying out" the door with a woman (the school nurse, Teri Lorenzo-Castaneda).
Dufficy also testified that he thought something was wrong about Blake's behavior. He said he had noticed Blake walking up the restaurant's aisle. "I thought it was behavior that stood out dramatically," Dufficy testified. "He was fooling around with his hair a lot, twisting it and making faces as he went down the aisle."
Both witnesses claimed to have noticed vomit in a trash can in the men's room. It appeared to contain spinach, which was part of what Blake had eaten for dinner. "I saw it when I was washing my hands," said Dufficy. "I covered it up with paper towels. I didn't think anyone else needed to see it."
Although both witnesses dine at the restaurant about three times a week - as does Mr. Blake - neither of them knew the actor personally.
Prosecutors hope to convince jurors that Blake was jittery because he planned to kill Bonny Bakley. She was shot and mortally wounded in Blake's car shortly after leaving Vitello's.
When Dufficy and Noel left the restaurant, they were told about the shooting by persons at the scene, but didn't stop to look at what was happening. "I don't need to see blood and I'm not an ambulance chaser type," said Dufficy, "and it was nothing to do with me, so we turned and left."
However, on cross-examination, defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach was able to get some important concessions.
"Is it fair to say you didn't know Mr. Blake well enough to say he was upset or he always acted the way he did that evening?" he asked Noel.
"Correct," Noel responded.
Steven Dowell, Debra Kowal
On the following day, prosecutor Shellie Samuels began to present the forensic part of her case. On the stand were two criminalists working for the county of Los Angeles.
Steven Dowell, who works at the county coroner's office, tested clothing removed from Blake's home the morning after the murder. Dowell (at right) reported finding on a pair of black boots "one highly specific particle" of gunshot residue and "several consistent particles." Particles "consistent" with gunshot residue are those made up of elements that are found in gunshot residue, but not all. They may or may not be gunshot residue. Particles that are "specific" consist of all three elements found in gunshot residue - lead, barium, and antimony. Those are recognizable as having come from a firearm.
But even when "specific" particles are found on someone's person or on their clothing, this is not necessarily proof that the person has fired a weapon. Gunshot residue is non-organic. It can't be dated, and it transfers from one surface to another. In other words, if a person handles a firearm, particles of gunshot residue can be picked up that way. Clothing that comes in contact with another surface having particles on it can also pick up traces of the residue.
Dowell described the items tested as having been bundled together in a box. Because the items weren't covered or separated, and were left for an extended period of time in the trunk of a police car that had been used to transport guns (see testimony of Detective James Gollaz, 5 January), even the one specific particle could have come from another source beside Mr. Blake. And since Blake owned and carried his own gun (which was not the murder weapon), that gun could likewise have been the source of the residue.
Dowell testified that most of the particles consisted of lead, and not the other components of gunshot residue. They could, he added, have been produced by a number of different environmental factors.
The second expert, Debra Kowal, said she found a tiny amount of gunshot residue on Bakley’s hands. But, as in Blake's case, they didn't mean the woman had fired a gun before her death - or even that the particles came from the murder weapon.
Kowal further explained that residue could be picked up merely by touching items that had been exposed to gunshot residue, such as clothing, the surface of a restaurant booth, or the car in which Bakley was shot.
She was asked by Schwartzbach if a person could have gunshot residue on their hands if they hadn't fired a gun.
"Correct," she said.
Earlier in the day, jurors heard the cross-examination of crime scene investigator Michael Mastrocovo. They were also shown graphic photos of the bloody car seat where Bakley was found, as well as photos of some dried matter that appeared to be vomit which was taken from the door of Blake's car. Also introduced into evidence were pictures of two shell casings found at the scene. One was recovered in the gutter next to the passenger side of the car where Bakley sat. The other was was on the car seat.
Jurors also got to see the clothing worn by both Bakley and Blake, and were told that the holes in Bakley's outfit could have been made by bullets.