Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Golf Buddies

”We were playing golf at the time.” – sworn testimony of retired LAPD Detective Michael Thrasher


The defense called Michael Thrasher, retired LAPD detective, Hollywood division, today to rebut the testimony of William Welch.

Welch was a private detective who testified that in October, 1999, Robert Blake wanted to force Bonny Lee Bakley to have an abortion, and if that failed, Blake was going to “whack her.” Welch also testified that Blake wanted to plant drugs on Bakley and asked Welch if he could get some of his LAPD friends to arrest her. Welch, who was a retired LAPD homicide detective, said that Blake called off both those schemes, and, anyway, Welch never took them seriously.

There were problems with Welch’s stories. Why didn’t he, an ex-homicide detective, take Blake’s threats seriously? Why didn’t he report these to the police when they happened, or at least promptly after the murder? In October 1999, Bakley was less than two months pregnant, and according to both Bakley’s sister, Margerry, and Bakley’s oldest daughter, Holly, Bakley waited to tell Blake about the baby until she was sure she would hold the pregnancy. It was unlikely that Blake would have made statements about whacking Bakley in October 1999, especially when Blake had no idea whether the baby was his.

Welch waited more than a month before going to police, leaving town on a fishing trip shortly after the murder. Welch continued to work for Blake after October 1999, and had offered his services to Blake after the murder – a suspicious gesture in itself, considering Welch had given statements to police against Blake.

But it was Detective Thrasher that corroborated the defense contention that Welch was lying. Thrasher was visibly displeased at taking the stand. He glared at Gerald Schwartzbach and every answer he gave had a derisive tone. He was determined not to give the jury anything they could use to acquit Blake.

On or about June 10, 2001, Welch and Thrasher were playing golf. Welch asked Thrasher to put him in touch with the Robbery Homicide detectives investigating the Bakley murder.

“At the time did Mr. Welch tell you that he had 'no first-hand knowledge' that Mr. Blake wanted to harm his wife?”

“I don’t recall the conversation,” Thrasher replied. “We were playing golf at the time.”

“But you recorded it in the log, didn’t you?”

“I don’t recall.”

“Would it refresh you memory if I showed you the log?”

“No.”

Schwartzbach was unable to show Thrasher the log, but all those in the courtroom knew what it said.

The examination was short, and the prosecution did not cross.

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