Witness alleges Blake wanted wife ''whacked.'' In the first day of the actor's preliminary hearing, prosecutors lay out several of his alleged schemes to have his wife jailed or killed

By Gary Susman
February 27, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Robert Blake finally had a day in court Wednesday, and he spent that day listening to prosecutors detail the numerous ways he allegedly plotted to rid himself of Bonny Lee Bakley, including murder. After 10 months in a Los Angeles jail, the actor was in court in nearby Van Nuys for the first day of preliminary hearings to see if there’s enough evidence against him for a trial. Evidence offered the first day included a tape recording of an angry conversation between Blake and Bakley, and a witness who claimed Blake tried to enlist him to have Bakley ”whacked.”

In 1999, Blake impregnated Bakley after a one-night stand. In the tape played in court, which Bakley recorded in late 1999, Blake offers to take her to get an abortion and says how he feels she betrayed him. ”You lied to me. You doubled-crossed me. You double-dumped me,” Blake says on the tape, according to E! Online. ”Those are big lies, baby.” Blake’s attorney objected to the tape on the grounds that it was recorded without the ”Baretta” star’s knowledge, which is illegal in California, but the judge overruled the objection.

William Welch, a former Los Angeles homicide detective-turned-private eye who had worked on and off for Blake for 10 years, testified that Blake spoke to him in late 1999, telling him, ”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,” according to wire service reports. Welch said he tried to talk Blake out of the idea, suggesting that Blake buy her off instead. Later, Blake suggested planting cocaine in her hotel room and having her framed and arrested, Welch testified. He said Blake persisted with that idea even after the couple’s daughter, Rose, was born in June 2000.

Blake and Bakley married five months later but lived in separate residences on Blake’s property. In May 2001, Bakley was found shot dead in her car near a restaurant where the couple had just eaten dinner. Blake has said he was in the restaurant, retrieving a gun he kept for protection, at the time his wife was shot.

The hearing began on the same day Barbara Walters’ interview with Blake aired on ABC’s ”20/20.” In the interview, recorded last week in jail, Blake blasted Jay Leno for making him the butt of late-night jokes, and addressed his daughter, now nearly 3, asserting that he did not kill her mother.