February 08, 2005 09:00 AM

A key prosecution witness in the Robert Blake murder trial surprised a Los Angeles courtroom with his testimony Monday.

Gary McLarty was expected to take the stand and tell jurors that Blake had solicited him for the murder of Blake’s wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, in 2001. That’s what McLarty had testified to in a preliminary hearing. Instead, the 64-year-old retired stuntman said that Blake had never directly requested that he murder Bakley, the Associated Press reports.

McLarty also admitted to heavily using cocaine, and said that he had experienced paranoid delusions of people tunneling under his house and watching him via satellite. The stuntman also admitted that he had previously lied about the extent of his drug use, and acknowledged that in years past he had killed someone in self-defense, for which he was not charged.

According to testimony, McLarty said that Blake had complained to him about Bakley and showed him where she lived, and that the Baretta actor had suggested to McLarty that someone could enter the house and “pop her.”

But when asked by Blake’s attorney whether the 71-year-old actor ever directly asked him to kill Bakley, McLarty admitted, “I insinuated it.” McLarty also testified that Blake showed him a small gun and asked if he could get a silencer for it, Reuters reports.

Blake’s attorney attempted to downplay earlier conversations between his client and McLarty, suggesting that McLarty’s hearing problem was to blame in any miscommunication between the two men.

Blake is accused of shooting and killing Bakley, 44, as she waited in a car outside a Studio City, Calif., restaurant. He has pleaded not guilty.

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