Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Murdered Bonny Lee Bakley?

New Developments

M. Gerald Schwartzbach with Robert Blake
M. Gerald Schwartzbach with Robert

Not long after Mesereau quit, Blake hired criminal lawyer M. Gerald Schwartzbach to represent him. One of the first moves Schwartzbach made was to motion the court for an extension of the trial. A June 18, 2004 AP Worldstream article by Linda Deutsch suggested that "it was highly unlikely" that Schwartzbach would be ready in time for the September trial date because he needed more time to review the case. In July 2004, Judge Schempp "reluctantly" granted Blake and his defense attorney a two-month delay so that Schwartzbach could better prepare his case, Deutsch reported in a July 16, 2004 AP Online article. The trial was rescheduled to begin in November.

In August 2004, prosecutors requested that a former private investigator named William Jordan, 78, be allowed to testify months before the trial "because he is more than 70 years old" and "may be unavailable at the time of the trial," AP Online reported in a August 20, 2004 article. Judge Schempp agreed to the motion and allowed Jordan to testify on tape for two hours.

Jordan testified that he and Blake devised a plan that involved convincing Bakely to travel with Rosie from Arkansas to California, a trip that would require her to travel outside her parole jurisdiction, Ryan Pearson reported in an August 21, 2004 AP Online article. According to the article, Blake further tried to persuade Bakely to leave Rosie with him, especially since there was a chance she could get busted for violating parole. Pearson quoted Jordan who said, "I considered the whole thing a gimmick to get her to give him the baby" because Blake feared Rosie would be exposed to a life of drugs and crime if she remained with her mother. Jordan's testimony proved to be damaging to the defenses case because it provided the prosecution with a possible motive for Bakely's murder.

Dianne Mattson
Dianne Mattson

Several days later, Matt Bean reported in an August 23, 2004 Court TV news article that the defenses star witness Dianne Mattson boosted Blake's case when she obtained a temporary protection order against Joanne Corralles, a business associate of Christian Brando. Mattson claimed that Corralles threatened her life after she came forward about a telephone conversation she overheard between Brando and a man identified as "Duffy." Bean suggested in his article that Brando was angered at Blakely when he learned that Rosie was not his daughter and said during the telephone conversation that, "somebody ought to put a bullet through that bitch's head." The restraining order filed by Mattson added further weight to the defenses argument, which suggested that Brando was likely involved in Blakely's murder.

In September 2004, an AP Worldstream article reported that Schwartzbach tried to persuade the judge to allow evidence, which supports "the previous claim that a drifter with ties to Christian Brando" killed Blake's wife. Surprisingly, Judge Schempp who had previously denied the defense from introducing the evidence, agreed to consider admitting it this time. According to a September 18, 2004 AP Online article, Schwartzbach told reporters that even though the police had evidence that the drifter received $10,000 around the time Bakley was murdered they chose not to pursue it. Schwartzbach was further quoted in the article saying, "In my judgment, the Los Angeles Police Department convicted Robert Blake on the evening of the murder."

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