LATEST: A judge has banned Robert Blake's defence team from linking MARLON BRANDO's son CHRISTIAN to the murder of Blake's wife Bonny Lee Bakley.

Former BARETTA star Blake is currently awaiting trial, charged with Bakley's 2001 murder.

The actor's attorney M GERALD SCHWARTZBACH wanted to present to jurors a theory that others, including 46-year-old Brando, conspired to kill Bakley.

But Superior Court Judge DARLENE SCHEMPP yesterday (21OCT04) ruled Schwartzbach cannot do so.

She said, "I've found there was no link, direct or circumstantial, with Mr Brando. It's pure speculation."

The judge had already ruled out as evidence a tape recording of a phone call between Bakley and Brando - who is a leading prosecution witness in the trial - during which he said she was lucky someone didn't put a bullet through her head. Brando was angry Bakley had led him to believe he was the father of her child, when in fact Blake was.

Schwatzbach is also banned from asking another witness, RONALD 'DUFFY' HAMBLETON, if he conspired to kill Bakley on behalf of Brando.

Blake, 71, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Bakley, 44. He told police he found her dead in his car after returning to a restaurant to retrieve a gun he carried for protection.

Jury selection for the trial will begin on 15 November (04) - the trial is expected to last four months.

22/10/2004 14:16