Baby Snatching?
(Testimony from 24 January 2005)

Cody Blackwell

Perhaps the most colorful witness in the case to date was Cody Blackwell, introduced to jurors on Monday, the 24th of January. Blackwell is a one-time housekeeper for Robert Blake who was called by him in September of 2000 and asked to pose as a nurse named Nancy when Bakley brought the baby to California. The prosecution has claimed that this was a "baby snatching" schene similar to kidnapping. But others have questioned whether a man can kidnap his own child absent a court order specifically denying him custody or visitation.

Blakewell made a curious spectacle even before her testimony began. She was escorted into the courtroom before the jury was seated by one of the four main detectives to work the Bakley murder case, one Brian Tyndall. An elderly woman, Blackwell's short hair was died a vivid red, and she was dressed in all-black black outfit with high red patent-leather boots.

On the witness stand, Blackwell was - at best - a shaky and eccentric witness. She began by telling the story of how she pretended to be a nurse, took the baby from Bakley, then went to her house with the child. Blake subsequently called her and asked her to bring the baby to a location in Laurel Canyon where he would be waiting. She did as she was instructed, and Blake placed the child in his car. He paid Blackwell $300 for her help and thanked her. But when the infant began crying, the defendant allegedly said he needed her to stick around. She got in Blake's car, she testified, and was lying down in the back - presumably, said the witness, so she didn't know where Blake was going with the baby. She said, however, she was able to see the general area from freeway signs, and believed they stopped in an area called Calabasas. There Blake left her off at a McDonalds where she ate lunch with money Blake gave her. And eventually he returned, without baby Rose, and drove Blackwell back to her car.

Blackwell said that after it was all over, it started to bother her that she might have been involved in a "kidnapping."

Asked by prosecutor Shellie Samuels why she didn't report the incident to police under the circumstances, Blackwell virtually collapsed in tears. "I'm really ashamed of this," she wailed. "I should have called the police and I didn't because I thought I'd be arrested. I thought about myself."

At that point, Blackwell was so distraught that the judge, who appeared annoyed with the witness, had to hand her a tissue.

Blackwell also sobbed that she believed that Blake had killed Bakley that day. Shaking and gasping for air, she kept saying, "I was scared...."I thought, 'Oh my God, he's killed her.' I kept watching television thinking I was going to hear something on the news."

Blackwell was forgetful of certain facts, and got several others entirely wrong. Rose, the child born to Blake and Bakley on the 2nd of June, 2000, was three-and-a-half months old in late September when Cody Blackwell Bakley arrived and gave her to Blackwell, as "Nancy the nurse." But Blackwell said that the baby was nine months old at the time, and actually described how the baby played with her dog - a dog that the witness claimed was three-quarters wolf.

She also admitted selling her story to a tabloid for $8,000, saying she was behind on her rent and desperate for money. But Blake's lawyer, M. Gerald Schwartzbach, produced a police report that said she was paid $10,000.

A projection screen showed the Blackwell article, headlined "Robert Blake Baby Kidnap led to Murder," in the Star newspaper. An accompanying photo showed her with her dog and was captioned, "Nanny and the Wolf." The witness appeared in that picture to be wearing a large pendant around her neck with a pentagram - a symbol often associated with devil worship.

Blackwell also came up with some new embellishments on her tabloid story. She said that Blake absolutely "hated" Bonny Bakley, and testified that the actor said of Bakley and her family, "Just let them come to my place. I'll be ready. I'll shoot them dead and the birds can pick their bones."

Blackwell, having admitted that she never called the police about taking the baby, was asked why she didn't contact them after she heard about Bakley's murder in May of 2001, going instead to the tabloids to sell a story. "You didnít call the police before the murder, did you?" Schwartbach asked her on cross. " You didnít call the police when you first learned of the murder. You didnít call the police after the Star interview. You didnít call the police after the Star published the interview?"

The attorney also accused the witness of being in bankruptcy, which she acknowledged was true.

But when asked about phone calls Blackwell made to Blake seeking additional work just before the murder, she said she didn't remember making the calls. Schwartzbach further asked if if she didn't call Blake either the day of the murder or the next day, asking how he was doing. Again, she denied it.

Blackwell also recalled for the jurors how Bakley was described by blake as a "low-life" who was involved with "bikers and drug addicts." She confirmed that baby Rose was in bad condition and in need of medical help when Bakley brought her to California; she was suffering from a rash and ringworm, according to Blackwell. "She couldn't have a bowel movement. I literally had to take it from her. She was not healthy for a child."

Blackwell also related that Miles Corwin, who had testified in the trial five days before, was present when she was interviewed by police, but that he did not identify himself as a writer and that she did not give him permission to use her name in his book. Corwin had said under oath during his 19 January testimony that he never used the names of persons connected to the case without their consent.

The witness said she met Blake in 1995 at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and that she worked for him on and off as an assistant some time after that meeting until the incident with Bakley and the baby in September 2000. At one point, she said her work included "taking chimneys down."

Jurors took notes during much of Blackwell's sometimes-rambling anmd contradictory testimony, and often exchanged amused glances at some of the stranger statements from the witness. At one point, for example, she mentioned that her hybrid wolf/dog howled when the police arrived to question her, adding that the animal "talks to me." Schwartzbach often refered to the part-wolf dog during cross.

Blackwell also related how she accompanied Blake on a shopping trip just before the baby's arrival at which time he bought four shopping carts full of nursery furniture, clothing, and other baby items.)

William Jordan

William Jordan is a former LAPD officer who has been in the private investigation field for years. His credentials are impressive. While with the LAPD, he had been placed in charge of of security for the likes of Martin Luther King, Hubert Humphrey, John Kennedy, and several others. He also has several predicential commendations. Ironically, Jordan's credentials were discussed more extensively during cross-examination that on direct, and Shellie Samuels at one point objected to having Schwartzbach bring out the investigators outstanding past. She lost.

Jordan testified that he worked for Blake doing background checks on Bonny Bakley. And what he found was truly scandalous. Among other things, Jordan found evidence that Bakley had used both of her other daughters in prostitution from "very young" ages. (For the record, Holly, the oldest girl, was almost 20 when Bakley was killed, and a younger daughter, originally named Jeri Lee, was not yet 11.)

Jordan also said he was informed by Blake that Bakley had accused Dean Martin of making her pregnant and had refused to accept a buy-off of $10,000 to get an abortion. Martin then allegedly sent two men out to take Bakley, against her will, to a doctor who aborted her. Afterward, when Bakley contacted Martin by phone demanding the $10,000, Martin reportedly told her, "Go to hell," and hung up on her. The story, said the witness, came from Bonny herself.

Jordan told the court that having Blake get physical custody of baby Rose was his idea. He said that he told Blake he should get Bakley to voluntarily leave the child with him, and there would be no trouble since he was one of the parents. And he also set up the probation trap, visiting Bakley at her hotel the evening that she came to town with the baby and advising her that her probation officer had been notified that she had illegally left Arkansas.

"I think she assumed I was a policeman," Jordan said. "I told her that I knew she was violating and that she'd better get back to Arkansas, and she said, 'No, I don't have to go back.' I asked why not, and she said, 'I give the probation officer blos jobs..." She described to Jordan a couple of lewd sex acts she did to the probation officer, claiming that she could get him to anything she wanted.

The probation officer, Daryl Bailey, testified on the 21st, but was never asked about anything sexual with Bakley.

Also during his testimony, Jordan recalled having dinner at Vitello's with Blake on several occasions, and he said that twice Blake parked in the very same spot, right behind the dumpster, has he had on the murder night. Further, there was one occasion when the two were together when Blake forgot his gun at the restaurant. Jordan said he was sure he told this to the police when they were investigating the crime.

This part of the testimony produced some of the hottest exchanges of the trial between Samuels and Schwartzbach. Samuels tried to get the witness to back off the forgotten gun part of his testimony, but he refused. And Schwartzbach, in turn, asked if his conversations with the police had been recorded. But it also became pretty clear that, while the interviews apparently were recorded, for some reason all had not been transcribed.

The detectives testimony came to a rousing end when Samuels challenged Jordan, ďYou worked for the defense after the murder, didnít you?"

Jordan said he had worked with Harland Braun for two or three months.

Schwartzbach countered, "You donít work for me, do you? I never paid you any money, did I?"

And, of course, he hadn't.


Click below to download an audio commentary about the trial on January 24 (from KFI Radio, Los Angeles):

Jan. 24 (25 minutes).