Part II: Blake's Real-Life Drama
But there are two other phone conversations that Blake's defense team says points to convicted killer Christian Brando, who pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 1991 for killing his sister's boyfriend.
The phone calls with Brando, which were recorded by Bakley, discuss the father of Bonny's baby. At first, Brando was told that he was the father of the baby. But when he found out that Blake was in fact the father, he was reportedly furious.
Bakley recorded a conversation with Brando in which he warns her that scheming would catch up to her: "Think about it. You're lucky somebody ain't out there to put a bullet in your head."
Diane Mattson, a former friend of Brando's, has also come forward to say she overheard another telephone conversation in which Brando allegedly wished that Bonny were dead.
But Samuels says there's absolutely no evidence that Brando was on that street that night. She says he was in a different state.
There's one woman who says she's going to make sure Robert Blake never forgets Bonny Lee Bakley – her daughter, Holly Gawron.
Correspondent Peter Van Sant speaks exclusively with Gawron, Bakley's daughter from her first marriage.
"She was amazing. She was really an incredible mother," says Gawron, who closely resembles her mother. "It's hard to describe someone so generous, so loving, so caring. There are no words for it, really. And it's hard to believe someone so perfect, but she strived to be Donna Reed. And that's what she did in the home."
It's also an image confirmed by Bakley's best friend, Judy Howell.
"She was not anything like what the Blake camp portrayed her to be," says Howell. "She was a kind, loving, beautiful person inside and out."
"I think America knows the reason for the trashing of this woman. It's so Blake can beat a murder rap. That's the only reason to do this," says attorney Eric Dubin, who represents Bakley's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Blake. "I think they murdered her once in the car and then afterwards in the public's eye."
But Tom Mesereau, Blake's current attorney, says he's playing fair: "The defense is that Robert Blake is innocent. He didn't do this and all the evidence proves it. That is the defense, not that Bonny's a bad person."
Bakley's family says the portrayal of Bonny by Blake's defense team as a woman whose dangerous lifestyle gave dozens of men a motive to kill her is the dirty strategy of a cornered killer -- and nothing but a lie.
"She just didn't think anything she did was that bad. And she made sure she didn't do anything that bad," says Gawron, adding that her mom was dealing in the real world as the sole breadwinner for her family. "She had so much providing to do. Of course, she needed money."
Gawron denies that her mother ever used her as a prostitute for her clients. But a FBI document suggests a different story. Bakley, who was under investigation for interstate fraud, told the FBI about a male college student she conned in the summer of 1994. She told the FBI that she, her sister, and Holly, then 13, visited the student at his residence – and that her daughter dated him during the visit.
Gawron has no criminal record, and no charges have ever been filed against her in connection with her mother's business.
"This is not about a business that Bonny had. This is about murder," says Dubin. "This was the mother of four who was loved by her family and friends. And she was a real human being regardless of what the Blake lawyers will tell you."
Bonny's loved ones say this murder was linked to Blake's and Bonny's bitter custody battle for their daughter, Rosie.
"This was a heavyweight fight between him and Bonny, and he wasn't going to lose," says Dubin.
At 70, Blake is grateful that, at least for now, he's left prison life behind.
"I thank God for my life," he says. "It's been an exquisite adventure. I know it's not over yet."
But it's a murder that Bakley's daughter is still trying to comprehend.
"Just knowing that he's free, he's out celebrating, it makes me sick. He's a horrible person. It just hurts me. He has no right to celebrate or be happy. Not after what he's done," says Gawron, who believes that Blake murdered her mother.
"I want [the trial] over with. I want to move on, but I'm eager to find out everything that everybody knows. I can't wait to see how many witnesses, how much evidence. There's so much I don't know and I can't wait to find out."
"He's not guilty. He's innocent and we're going to prove he is innocent because the truth is with us," says Mesereau.
Blake is facing life in prison with no parole, and his daughter, Rosie, faces life with no parents. Right now, Rosie is living with Blake's daughter, Delina, who has full custody.
"I pray for my sister and his daughter Delina. I hope she's realizing what she's doing is wrong, to shelter that child from her real family," says Gawron.
In February, Blake's fate will be in the hands of a jury. But Blake says he's ready, no matter what happens.
"It's been a hell of a life and it's been an incredible ride," says Blake. "And when I die, whoever gets this seat better buckle up, 'cause it's a lotta ups and a lotta downs. But I wouldn't have it any other way."
Recently, the judge in the Robert Blake case threw out one of the charges against him – that he had conspired with his handyman in the murder of his wife.
Some observers see the ruling as a sign of weakness in the prosecution's case. But the judge refused to dismiss the whole case against Blake – something his attorneys wanted – saying there is still probable cause to try him.
The police also point out that there was no rush to judgment. They claim they did a thorough investigation before arresting Blake almost a year after Bakley was murdered.
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