Nick Ut/AP
January 05, 2005 08:00 AM

Prosecutors in Robert Blake’s murder trial, attempting to suggest that Blake was putting on an act when he found his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, dying of gunshot wounds, spent Tuesday’s court session zeroing in on the former Baretta star’s behavior.

But witnesses gave Blake mixed reviews of his performance, the Associated Press reports. Some found him overacting with his cries for help, hysterical wails and vomiting on the sidewalk. Still others took him seriously.

Blake, 71, maintains that after he and his wife dined at Vitello’s restaurant in the San Fernando Valley on May 4, 2001, they returned to their car and he then left Bakley, 44, to retrieve a gun he had left in the restaurant (and carried for protection). He said he returned to find her mortally wounded.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, lying in wait and soliciting two stuntmen to murder Bakley.

“It seemed forced,” said hospital administrator Mary Beth Rennie, who cited Blake’s demeanor as the reason she and her physician boyfriend, Dr. James Michael McCoy, did nothing to assist Bakley who came upon the scene soon after the shooting in the Blake’s car.

Rennie said she and McCoy, the first people to hear Blake’s cries for help, hid by a tree and didn’t intervene because “It didn’t seem genuine or real” – despite her telling detectives investigating the crime scene that Blake was “hysterical” and “frantic.”

Another witness on Tuesday, Vitello’s waiter George Brumbly, said the couple’s visit to the eatery that night appeared normal until Blake returned yet again screaming for help. “His eyes were open wide. He was panting, breathing heavily and he asked for a doctor,” said Brumbly, who then tracked down a nurse.

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