Bonny Lee Bakley was shot dead in a passenger seat of a car outside of a famous restaurant in Los Angeles. She was the wife of a Hollywood star Robert Blake who had gone inside the restaurant during the incident.
Robert Blake was charged for his wife’s murder in 2002 and was found not guilty of crimes in the year 2005. The murder case of Bonnie Lee Bakley seemed to be like a Hollywood movie straight out of a movie plot.
A Hollywood star active till 1997 had a great career as an actor and was active till 1997. In 2001, he again came to the limelight, this time as a murderer. Was he guilty or not? If not, who killed her. Let’s find out in this detailed article.
Early Life of Bonny Lee Bakley
Bonny was born on June 7 in the year 1956, in Morristown, New Jersey. Her dream as a young girl was similar to others to become rich and famous. Perhaps her poverty-stricken home helped to drive these fantasies. She had three siblings, Margerry Lisa Bakley, Joe Bakley, and Peter Carlyon from her mother’s second marriage. She lived with her grandmother in New Jersey.
At the age of 16, she dropped out of school to pursue her career in Modelling and acting at Barbizon school of modeling in New York City where she met Palaukis (an immigrant). She married him for a price and immediately ended it.
Later in 1977 Bonny married her cousin Paul Gawron and divorced him 5 years later. Her obsession for stardom was so high that she started mail-order business of sending obscene pictures of herself to men for money. She even was arrested for her mail-order business and scams.
Although she was penalized by the Police several times. Those scams and ads on magazines had made her capable enough of buying several houses and good financial support.
Her dream to marry a man of high stardom meant she pursued many celebrities. She even tried herself as a singer in Hollywood but failed considerably.
Marriage with Robert Blake
Before marriage to Robert Blake, Bonny was involved in a relationship with Christian Brando. When she found out that she was pregnant with Blake’s daughter, as revealed by the paternity test, they married each other. Blake married her under the condition that Bakley will sign a temporary custody agreement, and they were married in November 2000.
Even though they were husband and wife, they never lived together and besides, Bonny continued her mail-order business after her marriage.
Investigation in Murder Case of Bonny Lee Bakley
Blake and Bonny went for dinner at Vitello’s Italian restaurant in May 2001. Blake was a regular customer of the restaurant. After dinner, Bonny was found dead in the passenger seat of Blake’s car (Dodge stealth) shot by a firearm on the head while the car was still in the parking area.
Robert though claimed, he wasn’t present at the crime scene during the shooting as he went back to the restaurant to collect his gun, which he left in the restaurant. It was also cleared by the forensics that the bullet used to kill Bonny wasn’t fired from Blake’s gun.
Blake was arrested and charged with the murder case of Bonny Lee Bakley after a year of investigation on 18th April, 2002 along with his bodyguard Earle Caldwell for conspiring in connection with Bonny’s murder.
The Criminal Trial
The criminal trial of Bonny Lee Bakley’s murder ended in November 2005 when the jury found Robert Blake as “Not Guilty” with 11-1 locked in favor of Robert for acquittal since the prosecution couldn’t connect the Blake with murder weapon and killers.
At the start of the criminal trial, the defense portrayed Blake as an innocent and a victim of Bonny’s trap and claimed that she used to send her nude pictures and got herself pregnant to marry Blake. The defense further claimed that their daughter Rose was naturally the daughter of Christian Brando which was later cleared by a paternity test that Rose is the daughter of Blake.
Prosecution on the other hand produced two stuntmen who claimed that they were hired by Robert to kill Bonny. Later, during cross-examination when it was found that both those stuntmen were drug addicts, their statements were nullified by the jury.
The jury claimed that the prosecution failed in producing any solid evidence that could link Robert Blake with the murder weapon and the crime.
The Civil Trial
Robert Blake was found guilty in November 2005 in a civil case and was found liable to have a part in the murder of Bonny Lee Bakley for which the court also ordered him to pay $30 million to her children.
Though Robert never took a stand in the criminal court, he did deny all accusations in the civil court himself. Bakley’s three eldest children filed a suit against Blake. Rose remained in the care of Blake’s eldest daughter.
The moment that changed the whole scenario in the civil trial was when Eric Dubin, the girlfriend of Blake’s bodyguard Earle Caldwell was called upon and asked if she believes that Earle and Blake had a part in Bonny’s death.
The court was filled with silence as Eric Dubin paused and filled her eyes with tears. The silence felt as if hours had passed away when she leaned towards the microphone and admitted that she believes their part in the conspiracy of Bonny’s murder.
Court-ordered Blake to pay $30 million to her children as compensation. However, the compensation was reduced to $15 million in 2008 in the appeals court yet the verdict remained the same.
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