Stuntman Gary McLarty
At long last, the first of two retired Hollywood stunt men appeared to testify for the prosecution. 64-year old Gary McLarty (below, right) went to police approximately ten days after the murder to report that Robert Blake had solicited him to kill Bonny Bakley and that the actor had offered him $10,000 for the job.
Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels, McLarty conceded that Blake hadn't really asked him to kill Bakley. He said he'd only "insinuated" that the actor wanted the woman killed. He also said that Blake never told him Bakley's name.
Much of the direct examination was geared toward damage control, with McLarty cleaning up statements he'd made during the preliminary hearing which were not entirely truthful. In particular, he admitted that he had falsely stated two years ago that he used cocaine only occasionally when, in fact, he has been a heavy user for many years - stopping only recently, he said this time, because of the trial.
The witness also admitted having had bouts of paranoia in which he imagined that detectives were making tunnels underneath his house and conspiring to harm him.
According to this witness, Blake asked to meet with him and, when they did, the former Baretta star quickly turned the subject of conversation to a "bad" woman in his life and showing him nude photos of Bakley that she mailed out to her porn business customers.
"He started talking about his wife and how she was taking advantage of him," McLarty told the court, adding that Blake said he met Bakley in a bar, that he had sex with her one time on that same night, and that she became pregnant as a result.
He said he went with Blake to Blake's home where the request to kill Bakley was allegedly made. Blake, the witness claimed, suggested several possible scenarios for the murder plot, including shooting Bakley near a restaurant. He also told the court that Blake had showed him a gun at that time.
But the retired stunt man also admitted that he wasn't sure Blake was serious about the idea. "A lot of people want to strangle their wives at times," McLarty said. "I thought he was just venting his anger."
He also admitted that Blake never specifically asked him to murder anyone and that he'd assumed it by the way the actor spoke to him.
But on cross-examination, little was left of his credibility.
"While this case was pending, and while you were under the influence of drugs, you thought the police were trying to get you?" asked Blake's attorney. "Yes," came the answer.
"While this case was pending and while you were under the influence of drugs, you actually thought people were tunneling under your house?" Schwartzbach asked. Again, the answer was "yes."
And the questions continued, with McLarty admitting that he had believed that his house, car and cell phone were all bugged, that the police had satellite dishes tracking him and lead detective Ronald Ito was out to get him, that his own family members were also conspiring against him.
McLarty also said he'd seen alien spaceships in his childhood, and he testified that he could read people's minds.
At one point, McLarty testified that he'd never suffered any mental or physical injuries in his years doing movie stunts. But later he revised his statement, admitting that he'd had both legs broken in a motorcycle accident, that his hip had also been broken, and that he once severed his arm which was reattached, leaving him with partial numbness. In fact, one one movie set he rolled a car and ended up in a coma for several days with head injuries.
During some of the cross-examination, McLarty seemed to have forgotten almost everything relevant to the case.
Schwartzbach: In March 2001, do you recall meeting with Robert Blake?
McLarty: I donít recall the day.
Schwartzbach: Do you remember the month?
Schwartzbach: The year?
McLarty (after a hesitation): 2001?
Schwartzbach: Was it at the beginning of 2001 or the end?
McLarty: I donít recall.
McLarty, who was hospitalized in September after having a paranoid episode in which he crawled away from his house on his stomach, admitted that during that time, there was another incident in which he "got crazy" while parking cars at Glendale College. McLarty also spoke of lurking outside his wife's house, but it was cut off by an objection from prosecutor Shellie Samuels.