A day after Robert Blake celebrated his acquittal on charges of murdering his wife, a lawyer for the victim's family announced plans to "wipe that smile off his face" in a civil case.

The former BARETTA star, 71, was elated after being found not guilty on Wednesday (16MAR05) in the May 2001 shooting death of his wife of six months, Bonny Lee Bakley.

Blake was also acquitted of soliciting a former stuntman to murder Bakley, and the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favour of finding him not guilty of asking a second stuntman to kill her.

But now Blake's legal woes have entered a fresh chapter, after a wrongful death civil lawsuit was brought by Bakley's family, which was held over until the conclusion of the three-month criminal trial.

ERIC DUBIN, the lawyer for Bakley's family, says, "I'm going to wipe that smile off his face."

Dubin adds the family felt Bakley, portrayed in court as a star-struck grifter who ran a mail-order sex business, had been murdered twice - "once in the car and once on the stand".

Blake was charged with fatally shooting Bakley, 44, in his car outside a Los Angeles-area restaurant. The evidence was largely circumstantial, based on the testimony of the two stuntmen whom jurors said they found unreliable.

Dubin plans to take testimony for the civil case from Blake within two weeks and have him back in court in July (05).

In civil cases, a verdict is based on the "preponderance of evidence" and the jury's verdict does not have to be unanimous - a lower standard of proof than a criminal trial where a case has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

18/03/2005 03:14