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Blake Trial Delayed After Theft

Actor Robert Blake speaks to the media at the Van Nuys courthouse in Los Angeles Monday, Dec. 6, 2004, for a hearing in his trial for the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
AP
Opening statements in actor Robert Blake's murder trial were delayed Monday for two weeks because of the theft of his defense attorney's computer.

Attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach told the court that he would need more time to prepare because he lost materials in the computer taken in a burglary from his home.

Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp granted a delay until Dec. 20 and questioned jurors individually about what they had heard about the case and whether it would influence them during the trial. All of them returned to their seats.

The judge then said she would hear brief pretrial motions and asked a TV crew to shut down its cameras "because of the publicity this case has been getting."

She said she did not want jurors to hear any news about the motions hearing, but said she would welcome TV cameras back when opening statements are presented.

On Wednesday, the day the jury was sworn in, someone broke into Schwartzbach's apartment-office, and stole a computer containing what a court representative called "the heart and soul of the defense case."

Blake was not arrested or charged until 11 months after the killing, and additional delays came when he changed lawyers and a five-week preliminary hearing was held to determine whether there was enough evidence for a trial.

"When it comes to a lack of physical evidence the Scott Peterson murder case has nothing on the Robert Blake case," says Cohen. "Again, no direct evidence, no eyewitnesses and precious little scientific evidence. And as defense attorneys certainly will point out, Bonnie Lee Bakley's lifestyle was markedly different from Laci Peterson's."

The only real difference is the sympathy factors for both the victims and the accused in both cases, Cohen said. "Blake likely will get a lot more sympathy than did Scott Peterson and Laci Peterson likely got more sympathy than Bonnie Lee Bakley will."

From the beginning, the defense's strategy has been to trash Bonnie Lee Bakley, calling her a celebrity-stalking con-artist who trapped Blake into marriage with a pregnancy, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes. Bakley was someone with a lot of enemies.

With no eyewitness or DNA linking Blake to the crime, prosecutors will rely on Blake's own words.

"If I'm going to die in that box, I want to talk before I go," he said in a broadcast interview.

He's talked so much since the crime, he's lost a string of high-profile attorneys.

The former star of the "Baretta" TV series and movie "In Cold Blood" is free on $1.5 million bail, but confined to home.