Stephen M. Silverman
March 03, 2003 10:12 AM

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against actor Robert Blake by the family of his late wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, has been put on hold until the criminal case against the ex-“Baretta” actor is resolved, reports Los Angeles station NBC4 TV.

A preliminary hearing in Blake’s criminal case, to determine whether he will stand trial on charges of murdering Bakley in May 2001, began last Wednesday and is expected to continue for another 10 days.

At that hearing on Friday, reports Reuters, retired Hollywood stuntman Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton testified that Blake could no longer deal with his wife’s activities, saying that he wanted her “snuffed.”

Hambleton testified that the actor first broached the subject in a March 2001 meeting. The stuntman said he went into that meeting thinking that he and Blake, now 69, were going to discuss a movie project.

“(Blake) became more aggressive in his talk and his state of agitation,” Hambleton testified. “He said it was necessary to get the job done immediately if not sooner because he couldn’t handle it anymore. If I couldn’t do it, he would do it.”

Friday’s testimony by Hambleton followed that of retired stuntman Gary McLarty, 69, who had testified that Blake offered him $10,000 to “pop” Bakley and suggested a restaurant as a site for the killing.

Bakley, 44, was killed in the family car parked near an Italian restaurant that she and Blake frequented. The actor maintains he is not guilty of all charges against him.

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