Actor Robert Blake is celebrating a partial victory after a judge halved the $30 million (GBP15 million) civil court award he was ordered to pay his murdered wife's family.
The 74-year-old was acquitted of the murder of Bonny Lee Bakley by a criminal jury in 2005, but was ordered to pay damages after he was found liable for her death by a civil court.
Blake challenged the decision at California's 2nd District Court of Appeal, but a judge upheld the original verdict, which ruled the star was partially responsible for his spouse's murder, although he cut the $30 million payout to $15 million (GBP7.5 million).
Bakley was shot dead in May 2001 while sitting in Blake's car, just six months after the pair married. The actor had left his wife alone to return to the restaurant they had just dined at to retrieve a gun he had left behind. He was then sued by Bakley's family for wrongful death.
Appearing in court on Friday (25Apr08), Blake's attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach argued his client had been given a harsher ruling because of his celebrity, telling the court: "There are a lot of folks who can't accept that he was acquitted of murder. They think he got away with murder and they want to exact a price in civil court."
However, his claims were dismissed and Blake must now pay the $15 million to Bakley's family.