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Former cop says Blake wanted him to 'whack' wife

Private investigator William Welch points to Blake in court Wednesday.
Private investigator William Welch points to Blake in court Wednesday.

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Years after 'Baretta,' actor Robert Blake is in the TV spotlight as he faces a hearing in Los Angeles to see if he can be tried in the killing of his wife. CNN's Charles Feldman reports. (February 26)
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A private investigator testified Wednesday that actor Robert Blake approached him with a scheme to kidnap his then-pregnant girlfriend Bonny Lee Bakley and abort the baby she was carrying, or, if that failed, to "whack her."

Later, in a prerecorded television interview, an often emotional Blake told viewers he was innocent.

The testimony came in the first day of a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to put the actor on trial for killing Bakley. The day also featured an audio recording in which Blake told his girlfriend that she "swore on her life" she would never get pregnant and that he would never forget all her "rotten, stinking, filthy" lies.

William Welch, a retired homicide detective who worked as a private detective for Blake, said Blake approached him in October 1999 and told him about his plan.

"He said, 'We're going to hire a doctor, we're going to abort her, and if that doesn't work we're going to whack her,'" Welch testified.

He said he disagreed with such a scheme and suggested paying Bakley $20,000 to $100,000 so "she would go away."

After the day's session ended, Blake attorney Tom Mesereau said prosecutors' witnesses had credibility problems, and their case had little hard evidence.

"We are going to continue to show they don't have the evidence to support what they are trying to accomplish," he said. "And when things are over, Mr. Blake is going free because he is no murderer."

Blake, the 69-year-old former star of the 1970s hit show "Baretta," is charged with murder in the May 4, 2001, fatal shooting of Bakley outside a Studio City restaurant where they had just dined. He was arrested nearly a year later and has been held without bond ever since. The couple had been married for six months.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Blake: 'I'm not going to be found guilty'

Blake listens in court Wednesday.
Blake listens in court Wednesday.

During an interview on ABC's 20/20 Wednesday night, Blake proclaimed his innocence.

"Of course, I'm innocent. Of course, I'm innocent," he told Barbara Walters.

"Did you kill your wife?" Walters asked.

"Of course not."

"Robert, what if you are found guilty?"

"What do I care?" a defiant Blake said. "How do you kill a dead man?

"What are they going to do to me that they haven't done already? They took away my entire past. They took away my entire future. What's left for them to take?" Blake said, referring to the police and prosecutors.

"So you think that you're going to be found guilty?"

"No, I'm not going to be found guilty," an earnest Blake stated.

Then asking himself the question "Why?

"It's real simple. Because God has never ever deserted me."

Mesereau said his client is suffering from mental and physical problems in jail, where he said Blake has been kept in solitary confinement for the past 10 months.

'A rotten, stinking, filthy lie'

Meanwhile, the attorney for Bakley's family said relatives are finally getting their story out.

"Anybody that was in the courtroom today knows that that 20-year detective was telling the truth about Mr. Blake wanting to whack his wife, planting drugs to have her sent to jail," said Eric Dubin. "All these things that we've been talking about for nine months, a year and a half, are starting to come out in court of law, and to me, that's justice."

The taped phone conversation presented in court was made by Bakley soon after she learned she was pregnant, prosecutors said.

In it, Blake tells Bakley that her getting pregnant was "the one thing in the world you knew I was terrified of."

"You swore to me, you promised me, you promised," Blake said in the 15-minute conversation.

"That was all a lie -- and not a little lie. That's a big lie. That's the kind of lie that God looks down and says, 'Hey, wait a minute. Wait a minute.' That's a big, awful, mean, vicious lie. They don't get any worse than that. They don't get any worse than that."

Moments later, he says, "You swore to me on your life that no matter what, I didn't have to worry. And that was a rotten, stinking, filthy lie, and you deliberately got pregnant. It was not an accident, you deliberately got pregnant."

Toward the end of the conversation, Blake says, "For the rest of your life you will have to live with that, and for the rest of my life I'll never forget it because that's the truth. I don't miss anything."

Blake married Bakley only after DNA testing showed he was the father of the baby.

Welch testified that after Blake saw his baby daughter, Rose, he "wanted that baby."

In an emotional conclusion to the 20/20 interview, Blake looked deeply into the camera and said:

"Life is a spectacular gift, Rosie. Don't ever sell it short. And I'll always be there with you, you just get quiet and daddy will be there right next to you."

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