Both sides in the murder case have finally started sifting through 100 potential jurors

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 15, 2004 02:00 PM

More than 3 1/2 years after Robert Blake’s wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, was found shot to death in the couple’s car, jury selection began Monday with 100 potential jurors facing questioning from both prosecutors and defense attorneys for the former Baretta star. The trial is expected to last five months.

Blake, 71, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Bakley, whom he married after DNA tests showed he was the father of her baby. He also has pleaded not guilty to two counts of solicitation of murder and a special circumstance of lying in wait.

Bakley was killed May 4, 2001, outside Vitello’s restaurant in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley after she and her husband had dinner there. Blake was arrested one year after the killing, and was finally released from prison once bail was set at $1.5 million. He has been living under house arrest ever since.

Jury consultant Richard Gabriel, president of Decision Analysis, tells the Associated Press that the defense is seeking jurors who “are open to alternative theories, people who are conspiracy theorists, people who will nit pick the evidence and create their own reasonable doubt.”

On the prosecution side, Gabriel, who is not working on the case, said: “They are looking for quick decision makers, conservative people who will use common sense.”