Opening of Blake Murder Trial Delayed

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Opening statements in actor Robert Blake's murder trial were delayed Monday for two weeks because of the theft of his defense attorney's computer.

Attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach told the court that he would need more time to prepare because he lost materials in the computer taken in a burglary from his home.

Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp granted a delay until Dec. 20 and questioned jurors individually about what they had heard about the case and whether it would influence them during the trial. All of them returned to their seats.

The judge then said she would hear brief pretrial motions and asked a TV crew to shut down its cameras "because of the publicity this case has been getting."

She said she did not want jurors to hear any news about the motions hearing, but said she would welcome TV cameras back when opening statements are presented.

The burglary occurred Dec. 1 at Schwartzbach's apartment and is under investigation by police. A court representative has described the computer as containing the "heart and soul" of the defense case.

Blake, 71, is accused in the 2001 shooting death of Bonny Lee Bakley, whom he had married months earlier after DNA tests showed he was the father of her baby daughter.

Blake was not arrested or charged until 11 months after the killing, and additional delays came when Blake changed lawyers three times and a five-week preliminary hearing was held to determine whether there was enough evidence for a trial.

The former star of the "Baretta" TV series and movie "In Cold Blood" is free on $1.5 million bail, but confined to home.