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Actor Robert Blake proclaims innocence

Blake
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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Actor Robert Blake says he did not kill his wife and believes that God will make sure he is cleared, but he also says he does not worry about his upcoming trial because he is already "a dead man."

Blake, who on Wednesday faces a preliminary hearing that will determine if he must stand trial on murder charges, proclaimed his innocence during an interview on ABC's "20/20" program that is scheduled for broadcast Wednesday night.

"Of course I'm innocent," Blake told Barbara Walters during the interview, which was conducted last week at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

"No, I'm not going to be found guilty," the "Baretta" star responded when asked if he would be convicted. "Why? It's real simple. Because God has never, ever deserted me. Can't say I haven't deserted Him from time to time."

Bonny Lee Bakley was found shot to death on May 4, 2001 while sitting in Blake's car not far from a restaurant where the couple had dinner. Blake had gone back into the restaurant to retrieve a gun that he left there.

But Blake, who would face a life prison term if he is found guilty, says he is not concerned about that possibility.

"What do I care?" Blake said. "How do you kill a dead man? What are they gonna do to me that they haven't done already? They took away my entire past. They took away my entire future. What's left ... to take? They gonna take my testicles and make earrings out of them?"

Wants to clear name for daughter's sake

The 69-year-old actor, best known for playing detective Tony Baretta on the 1970s television drama, also offered his theory about who killed his wife.

Blake said Bakley, who has been portrayed by defense attorneys as a grifter who bilked men with "lonely hearts" letters, was probably slain by one of her victims.

"In my heart I believe that some man maybe 10, 15, maybe 20 years ago -- because she used to get married to them ... I think she destroyed a lot of lives," he said. "And I think one life she destroyed saw her on television ... Because we got engaged and it was in all the newspapers."

Blake added that he used to see strange people "hanging around" his house and that one of them followed him and Bakley when they went to dinner on the night of the slaying.

Blake also said during the interview that he wants to clear his name for the sake of his young daughter, Rosie, and says he does not expect to last long if kept behind bars.

"I'm not going to last another year," he said. "I'm 70 years old. Things happen to old people. They get aneurysms, they get strokes, they get heart attacks."

Blake, a former child actor who starred in the "Our Gang" comedies, has also appeared in dozens of movies, including 1967's "In Cold Blood," based on the Truman Capote book of the same name, in which he portrayed one of two men who murdered a Kansas family and were hanged for their crime.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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