Actor Robert Blake claims he once offered $250,000 (GBP131,578) to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the children of his murdered wife - a sum he no longer can afford.

The former BARETTA star, who was acquitted in March (05) of killing BONNY LEE BAKLEY, was in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday (06MAY05) for a hearing on motions in the civil case, which also names former handyman EARL CALDWELL as a defendant. Both men are scheduled to give depositions today (09MAY05).

Judge DAVID M SCHACTER denied a request by Blake's attorneys for a gag order and also refused to seal records.

Outside the courtroom, Blake, 71, said he now has only $150,000 (GBP78,947) in assets, adding he has authorised an inspection of his finances at his accountant's office.

He said, "And if anybody ever finds that there's $5 hidden anywhere, I'm willing to go to Folsom (State Prison). There is no agenda here."

ERIC DUBIN, who represents Bakley's four children, countered that Blake had $25 million (GBP13.1 million) as of late 2003.

Bakley, 44, was shot to death in May 2001 as she sat alone in a car outside a Los Angeles restaurant where she and Blake had just dined.

09/05/2005 02:21