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Blake's wife sought out actor Gary Busey

Reprinted without permission
Date unknown

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Robert Blake's murdered wife was planning to swindle Oscar-nominated actor Gary Busey in the months before she was shot to death and may have even contacted his mother, Blake's lawyer said on Tuesday.

Attorney Harland Braun said he found Busey's name on a list of people that Bonny Lee Bakley -- who he has called a career grifter who preyed on famous men -- was going to pursue.

Bakley's family has admitted that she had past legal troubles but they have accused Braun of trashing her reputation in death to throw suspicion away from his client, an actor celebrated for his tough-guy roles.

Braun said that Bakley, 45, never reached Busey but wrote to his mother, who lives in another state, in a bid to get his address and phone number in the Los Angeles area.

``She targeted Gary Busey,'' Braun told Reuters in an interview. ``She had a list of people she was going to go after and his name was down for March 30, 2001.''

Braun said he contacted Busey, 56, who he has represented in legal matters, and the Oscar-nominated star of ``The Buddy Holly Story'' said he had never heard from Bakley. Braun said Busey did not know if Bakley had spoken to his mother.

A Los Angeles police spokesman said he could not comment on evidence in the case and did not know if detectives had found Busey's name in Bakley's papers.

Meanwhile, Braun said Blake's bodyguard, Earle Caulfield, had been interviewed by Los Angeles police detectives in the case and told them that he suspected that Bakley was murdered by hit men that she herself had hired.

Bakley was found shot dead in Blake's car on May 4 about a block and a half from a Studio City restaurant where the couple had dined. Blake told police he had left his wife alone in the car while he went back to retrieve a gun he was carrying for her protection in the wake of threats.


``If Blake was killed she would get $13,000 a month in child support,'' Braun said. ``Caulfield's theory is that she hired someone to kill Blake and the guys thought she was so unstable that they killed her instead and kept the money.''

Braun also said he was disappointed that detectives were focusing on Blake, 67, as a suspect to the extent that they weren't seriously considering other possible killers.

Meanwhile, a second attorney hired by Blake in the case, Barry Levin, told Reuters that the actor did not own a gun like the one that police have reportedly linked to the crime.

Levin, a former Los Angeles police officer, has previously defended Erik Menendez -- who was convicted along with his brother Lyle of murdering their wealthy parents after two sensational trials -- and an LAPD officer implicated in the Rampart corruption scandal.

He said police have not confirmed to Blake's defense team reports on ABC news that they have recovered a rare German pistol believed to be the murder weapon, but insisted that his client had never own a gun matching that description.

``He didn't have a .32 (caliber) or any weapon that I understand was used,'' Levin said. He added that, contrary to earlier reports in the press, Blake was not a gun collector.

Levin said the defense lawyers were ``in a position of trying to figure out what happened as much as the police'' and needed to explore any possible suspects.

``We know she's dead and we don't know who did it,'' Levin said. ``But according to history and human nature there are only so many motives out there.''

ABC reported that police found the murder weapon in a dumpster about a block and a half from the car in which Bakley was found shot to death.

Blake, who played detective Tony Baretta in the mid-1970s television drama, began his career as a child actor in the ``Our Gang'' movies and has since appeared in 127 films.