Where Deceit Hides - Part II
In an effort to show the defense and the public that the LAPD investigated all leads in the murder, Detectives Robert Bub and Brian McCartin interviewed Christian Brando, Bonny Lee Bakley’s former lover, and Dianne Mattson, Brando’s “adult babysitter,” in Brando’s attorney’s office on June 18, 2001.
It was an inadequate interview, which, according to the defense, was meant only to establish that Brando was in Washington state at the time of the murder. There were no questions regarding whether Brando had ever threatened Bakley, although the police had in their possession tapes Bakley recorded where Brando expresses extreme anger at her.
During the course of the interview, Brando encouraged the police officers to investigate Robert Blake. Later, Brando speculated that someone Bakley conned might have been responsible. “…Frankly, you know, what she was doing. …She was uh, playing hardball with a … bunch of people and, I guess that’s the payoff.”
They also interviewed Mattson, separately from Brando. Again the purpose of her interview seemed to be to corroborate Brando’s claim that he was in Washington state. Brando’s lawyer told Mattson not to say anything about drugs or violence.
At some point, one of the detectives turned off the tape recorder and told Mattson “they had their man.” Mattson asked them if they knew who murdered Bakley, and Bub replied, “We do…” implying they had already determined it was Blake, “…or we’ll be working the murder detail in the ghetto.” Then Bub and McCartin laughed.
Before the interview, Mattson said Brando was very apprehensive. According to court documents, she said Brando was convinced that because she had been with him during the murder, his alibi would protect him. He said that if the LAPD called him to testify, he would “fuck Blake up good.” And then he added, “Better him than me.”
After the interview, Mattson and Brando stopped at a bar where he had three double whiskeys. He was relieved that he had made it through the interview, “even though the LAPD had sent their finest.” He said he wouldn’t have to worry about it again. He then remarked that Bakley was dead and gone.
In December, 2002, Brando traveled to Boston, worried that the police would call him to testify.
In July 2003, Defense Attorney Thomas A. Mesereau, representing Blake at the time, presented a motion in court requesting a conditional examination of Mattson. Mattson had read about Blake’s preliminary hearing in the Oregonian newspaper, where Ronald Duffy Hambleton testified Blake had solicited him to murder Bakley. Mattson then realized she had a connection between Brando and Hambleton.
Mattson testified at the civil trial that she made numerous attempts to contact Detectives Bub and McCartin, leaving detailed messages regarding her information. Neither officer returned her calls. A friend then advised her to contact Mesereau.
Once Mesereau made Mattson’s information public, the LAPD was forced to re-interview Brando. On July 1, 2003, Bub and Lead Detective Brian Tyndall confronted Brando with Mattson’s claims. Brando said he met Jerry Lee Petty through a homeless man named Travis. He denied knowing Hambleton and denied that Petty ever mentioned Hambleton. He admitted he had a speakerphone, but he said it broke and he couldn’t remember when. He said he didn’t have one when Mattson worked for him and couldn’t explain why she would say that.
Toward the end of the interview, Brando’s attorney, David Seeley, mentioned to Brando that he had not told the police how his drug and alcohol abuse affected his memory. Tyndall immediately turned the conversation to another subject, avoiding the substance abuse topic.
In Blake’s civil trial, Brian Allan Fiebelkorn testified about a homeless man named Travis, aka, “Travelin’ Travis,” aka, Terrence Lee Walters (The State's Conspiracy - Part I). He drove a black pickup truck, was close friends with Petty, and, in 2000-2001, Walters wore his hair “close cropped, military style.” Blake and Earle Caldwell told police about a man whom Caldwell called “Buzz Cut” because of his hairstyle who drove a black pickup and seemed to be watching Blake’s house. Walters was murdered a few weeks after Brando’s second interview in 2003.
Rocky Dickerson, another civil trial witness, testified that Petty had known a stuntman named Duffy since the 1990’s and had heard Petty mention Duffy’s name within six months of Petty’s death. Dickerson also said in police and defense interviews that he and Brando had grown up together, and that they had both been very close to Petty.
Keith Seals, who testified at both the criminal and civil trials, said Hambleton had bragged he knew both Christian and Marlon Brando. He also told both police and defense investigators that Hambleton offered him $10,000 for “an unspecified job” sometime in the spring of 2001. Because of the amount of the offer, Seals said he knew that “job” was for a hit. Seals was incarcerated on a drug charge shortly after Hambleton made the offer. He later spoke to Hambleton in September 2006. Hambleton told him the job had been for Blake’s wife, and that he had given the job to someone else, who “fucked it up.” Seals later recanted some of his statement in the civil trial, saying that he did not mention Blake or his wife to the police.
Donna Sharon, an associate of both Seals and Hambleton, corroborated Seals’ police and defense statements, stating that she also heard Hambleton tell of his association with the Brandos, and that Seals had told her about the $10,000 job.
Bub and Tyndall arrived unannounced at Mattson’s home on July 3, 2003. Mattson said she consented to be recorded. She said that the detectives later told the court (in 2003) that she refused. “They lied about me,” she said.
Shortly after coming forward with her information, Mattson claimed Brando and his father Marlon’s business manager, Joanne Corrales, tried to intimidate her.
Corrales acosted Mattson in a supermarket in September 2003. According to the anti-harrassment petition filed by Mattson against Corrales, Corrales warned Mattson, “We have attorneys and we will destroy you. Keep your mouth shut. If you know what is good for you.”
Mattson testified that in October, 2003, Brando threatened to put a gun to both her and her son’s head.
According to unsubstantiated internet postings, Mattson also found a rat in her mailbox and her dog poisoned. These incidents were not testified to in court.
On October 25, 2005, Brando was subpoenaed by the defense to testify at Blake’s civil trial. He brought his lawyer, Bruce Margolin, to court with him. Margolin advised the court that Brando would exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and not answer questions. Judge David Schacter would not allow a “blanket” Fifth, and insisted Brando exercise his right after each question, provided the judge ruled he could. Brando took the Fifth on everything, except to identify his voice on two of Bakley’s recordings, and to admit he had been on Willow Glen Road.
Outside court during a break, the press asked Brando who he thought murdered Bakley. Brando replied, “The guy upstairs,” indicating Blake in the second floor courtroom. Bakley family attorney Eric Dubin, in a most unprofessional move which was met by objections from the defense, tried to get Brando to repeat his comment to the jury. Although Brando took the Fifth on Dubin’s question, he apparently decided to assist Dubin by pointing at Blake and whispering to the jury, “he’s guilty,” while leaving the witness stand. For his childish prank, Brando was fined $1,000 for contempt of court -- a small price for someone who threatens people and brags about committing murder.
In a weird sidebar to police and defense documented circumstances which might point to Brando’s involvement in Bakley’s murder, Christina Scheier, Bakley’s long time friend, appeared on Larry King Live about a month after Blake and Caldwell were arrested. She was there to promote a book and movie deal she had made with producer Larry Garrison. When King asked if she thought Blake was involved in the murder, she hedged her answer. Garrison said that Scheier feared for her life and that others were involved. He said people were hiding things that hadn’t come out. Scheier said, “People had motives but, you know -- people had motives, but it might jeopardize the trial.”
In 2003 after Mattson publicly revealed her information, Garrison’s publicist, Edward Lozzi & Associates, published a press release which claimed Scheier would tell all in her upcoming book and movie. The release stated Scheier was now free to talk about her evidence. Scheier claimed that Brando warned Bakley that “Somebody may knock you off.” Scheier said Bakley feared Brando but never thought anything would happen to her.
Whether any of this is true or whether Scheier was hyping publicity to attract investors in Garrison’s production deal is unknown. She was never called to testify in either trial.
Brando’s escapades do not prove he had anything to do with Bakley’s murder. In fact, during a hearing regarding a defense motion to introduce third party culpability, criminal judge Darlene Schempp stated she did not see a connection to Brando, only speculation. But most of the evidence against Brando had to be garnered by the defense, who were able to interview some witnesses, but did not have the wide authority the LAPD did. They were not able to pull phone records or perform searches, or to confront Brando with the accusations brought forward by Mattson and others. This was the job of the LAPD -– a job they were reluctant to do.
Where Deceit Hides – Part I