Exonerated actor Robert Blake has eulogised his defence attorney M GERALD SCHWARTZBACH after he was acquitted of murder and solicitation charges.

The former BARETTA star, who faced a possible sentence of life in prison had he been convicted of murder, was accused of shooting wife Bonny Lee Bakley to death in May 2001 in a car outside a Los Angeles restaurant where they had just dined.

The 71-year-old thanked Schwartzbach, who was the fourth legal representative he hired to defend him, for all his hard work after they "clicked instantly" on their first meeting.

Blake, who dubbed his lawyer 'The Badger' for his meticulous approach, says, "He'll never be rich and he'll never be famous but, by God, he can save lives and that will keep him warm on any cold night in his life.

"Through the process we learned to trust each other. He's a complicated guy and a sound bite never will really capture who he is.

Schwartzbach says modestly, "The case was a great deal of work and it took its toll on me emotionally and physically. I'm obviously very happy with the outcome and I get to have my life back."

17/03/2005 14:00