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Blake lawyer releases taped call between slain wife, Christian Brando

Robert Blake, during an arraignment this past spring.
Robert Blake, during an arraignment this past spring.  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Actor Robert Blake's attorney has released a recorded phone call showing that months before the actor's wife Bonnie Lee Bakley was killed, the son of actor Marlon Brando angrily warned her about her lifestyle.

"You're lucky somebody ain't out there to put a bullet in your head," Christian Brando said in the conversation.

The exchange between Christian Brando and Bakley was released by Blake defense lawyer Harland Braun, who cited it as evidence of other potential suspects in Bakley's death, as well as a flawed police investigation.

Blake has been jailed since his April 18 arrest on charges of murdering Bonny Lee Bakley, the 44-year-old mother of his toddler daughter. Bakley was shot to death May 4, 2001, outside a restaurant the couple had just visited.

Early into the investigation, police cleared Brando as a suspect in Bakley's death. But Braun, who has asserted that many people had the motive to kill Bakley, said he believes police did not adequately investigate Brando.

CNN's Charles Feldman has more on a secretly recorded phone conversation between Christian Brando and Bonny Bakley. (August 2)

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Brando pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for shooting his half-sister's boyfriend in 1990 and served about five years in prison. Blake married Bakley after she gave birth to a child she initially claimed was fathered by either Blake or Brando. Tests showed the child was Blake's.

According to The Associated Press, Braun said the tape was made in October or November 2000, and was turned over to the Blake defense by prosecutors, along with 120 other telephone call tapes found among Bakley's personal effects. In a police log of evidence seized after the murder, the tape is identified as a conversation between Bakley and Brando. Bakley recorded all her telephone calls and marked each tape, the AP reported.

During the taped conversation, Brando denied he fathered Bakley's baby. He warned her that her behavior -- particularly soliciting money from men by mail with promises of sex -- might lead to violence.

"You have no idea what you do to people with this shit," Christian Brando said. "Think about it. It gets close. You lucky, you know. I mean, not on my behalf, but you're lucky somebody ain't out there to put a bullet in your head!"

Toobin: Defense trying to show many suspects

When detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Robert Blake for the shooting death of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley, the then chief of police said prosecuting the actor would be easy.

In various court documents, the case against Blake became clearer. He allegedly tried to hire at least two hitmen to kill his wife before settling on doing the job himself, police said.

Although no DNA evidence apparently links Blake to the crime - and it has yet to be established that the murder weapon belonged to him - investigators are hanging much of their case on the testimony of the two Hollywood stuntmen who police say Blake tried to hire to murder his wife.

CNN was unable to contact Brando over several days to learn what he thinks of Blake's defense strategy to drag him back into this case.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, however, says he understands exactly what Blake's attorney is trying to do

"From day one, the defense has been trying to show that lots of people, not just Robert Blake, had a motive to kill Bonnie. This tape, the release of it, is another attempt to show other people with possible motives," Toobin said.

A lawyer representing the Bakley family said, however, that he is convinced the evidence against Blake is strong.

-- CNN Correspondent Charles Feldman contributed to this report.




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