Crime Scene Jury Tour
The Gun, Other Evidence
After a brief day in court, the eighteen jurors and six alternates toured the crime scene - looking first at the interior of Vitello's Italian restaurant, where Bakley ate her last meal with defendant Robert Blake - and then returning to see the scene of the shooting after dark.
The location where the shooting occurred, just west of the corner of Woodbridge and Kraft, was carefully staged by crime scene investigators, with attorneys for the defense and the District Attorney looking one. The same dumpster that was there the night of the crime was returned to roughly the same place (t turns out police never measured the exact location), and a car of similar make and model to Blake's 1991 Dodge Stealth was put in the spot where his car had been parked that night. According to reports, the District Attorney's office paid more than $6,000 to buy the look-alike car (see photo, right).
But before the trip, jurors heard additional testimony about gunshot residue and were finally shown the murder weapon, a sixty-some year old Walther P-38 pistol.
None of the prosecution witnesses has stated that Blake fired that gun.
Visiting the Crime Scene
On Thursday afternoon, jurors left the courtroom to tour Vitello's before the restaurant opened for business. Mr. Blake, as well the attorneys involved, their assistants, and court personnel, were all present. It was a chilly, overcast afternnon, and jurors and alternates arrived at the corner of Tujunga Avenue and Woodbridge Street in a county Sherriff's Department bus to be walked through the restaurant in groups of six.
After each group separately entered the main foyer, they were taken in silence through the restaurant, stopping to view table 42 - the booth where Blake and Bakley ate that first Friday night in May of 2001. They also looked sections in which various witnesses sat, and most took notes about their observations.
As the jurors toured the restaurant, getting a firsthand look at the restaurant that has been the subject of so much witness testimony, legal argument, and courtroom diagrams, Blake sat on the sidelines. Ironically, he was seated in front of a wall of celebrity photos, next to a picture of the former police chief, Bernard Parks, who announced the aactor's arrest on the 18th of April, 2002.
Jurors went briefly back to the courthouse, then returned to Studio City around 8 p.m. dark to look at the site of the shooting, looking as much as possible as it had looked the night May 4, 2001. Woodbridge Street, where Blake parked that night, had been completely closed off for the occasion.
Once again, members of the jury walked and looked in silence as they went over the scene, viewing the dumpster, the car, and the home of Sean Stanek, where Blake went for help upon discovering Bakley injured in his car.
They walked from near Vitello's along the north side of Woodbridge Street to Farmdale, crossed over to the south side of Woodbridged, and then back eastbound back toward the restaurant.
After the tour was completed, three jurors asked Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp if they could walk again through particular areas that witnesses had described in testimony. They specifically asked to see an alley behind Vitello's Restaurant and the tree behind which one witness, Dr. James McCoy, hid while watching the events of that night. One juror also asked to be allowed to walk diagonally across the street between the restaurant and the car, as Blake reportedly did.
Especially toward the end of the night-tie crime scene tour, jurors were attentive and took careful notes. Some seemed to be measuring distances and lines of vision to compare these with testimony given during the trial.
Blake and his legal team were nearby, as they had been during the tour of the restaurant, with the actor standing off to the side and avoiding contact with jurors, even as they walked, in a single-file line, within feet of where he stood.
The night-time crime scene visit lasted about one hour.