Brando warned Blake's wife of lethal enemies. Robert Blake's lawyer releases a taped phone conversation in which Christian Brando warns Bonny Bakley that one of the men she'd conned might try to kill her

By Gary Susman
Updated August 02, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

In an effort to show that a number of other people besides Robert Blake had a motive to kill Bonny Bakley, Blake’s lawyer released an audiotape Thursday of a phone conversation between Bakley and Christian Brando, which she recorded about six months before she was killed, in which Marlon Brando’s son warns her that one or more of the men she’d conned might seek murderous revenge, the Associated Press reports.

One such man, though he denies it on the tape, is Christian Brando himself, lawyer Harland Braun suggested. Brando, who spent five years in prison on voluntary manslaughter charges for shooting his half-sister’s boyfriend, was one of the men who Bakley thought might have fathered her daughter, Rose. She married Blake in late 2000 only after a paternity test proved the ”Baretta” star to be the child’s father. In May 2001, Bakley was shot in her car after dining with Blake, a crime for which Blake was arrested 11 months later. He remains jailed without bail. His handyman, Earle Caldwell, is charged with being a co-conspirator.

On the tape, apparently made before the paternity test, Brando denies he is the infant’s father and warns Bakley that her practice of soliciting money from men through the mail with promises of sex was making her lethal enemies, though he said he wasn’t one of them. ”You better get a handle on that and really think what you’re doing, running around sending letters to guys, embezzling money from all these idiots,” Brando says on the tape. ”Think about it. It gets close. You’re lucky — not on my behalf — but you’re lucky somebody ain’t out there to put a bullet in your head.”

He continues, ”I can’t believe you. Why do you do that? Because it’s something to do?” There is a pause, and Bakley replies, ”You know why I do that. I do that to get money.”

Brando has yet to respond to the release of the tape and Braun’s characterization of him, but authorities deny Braun’s charge that police didn’t adequately investigate Brando and say that neither Brando nor anyone else besides Blake and Caldwell is a suspect. ”We resolved any issues relating to other suspects, including Christian Brando,” Capt. Jim Tatreau, a Los Angeles police spokesman, told AP.