Sunday, March 13, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- Jurors in "Baretta" star Robert Blake's murder trial ended a week of deliberations Friday without a verdict, increasing speculation that they may deadlock over whether the actor shot and killed his wife outside his favorite restaurant.
The jury, which began deliberating March 4 and will resume tomorrow, is weighing one count of murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait, and two counts of solicitation of murder. Blake, 71, faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.
The panel interrupted its deliberations only once -- Wednesday -- to hear testimony from Steve Restivo, co-owner of the restaurant where Blake and his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, dined the night of the crime, and from a couple who saw Blake leaving the restaurant.
Bakley, 44, was shot on May 4, 2001, as she sat alone in Blake's car about a block from Vitello's Italian Restaurant. Blake says he returned to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he was carrying for her protection and found her fatally wounded.
Prosecutors said at trial that Blake hated Bakley because she was a con artist who had intentionally become pregnant with his child without his consent.
Two jury consultants watching the trial cautioned that although most people think the jury's inaction bodes well for the defense, it is not unusual for a jury to deliberate a week, or even a month, and still vote to convict.
"The length of time is not as important as the details they're focusing on," jury consultant Marshall Hennington said.
Jury consultant William DeHaven said he had never seen a panel of such meticulous note takers. "Some jurors have four or five notebooks," DeHaven said.