American TV star Robert Blake "overestimated his acting abilities" when he cried the night his wife was murdered, prosecutors told a Van Nuys, California, court on Wednesday (02MAR05).

The former BARETTA star, 71, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of BONNY LEE BAKLEY, who was shot to death in a parked car outside the actor's favourite Italian restaurant in Studio City, California, in May 2001.

Deputy District Attorney SHELLIE SAMUELS said, "The defendant overestimated his acting abilities."

One witness testified earlier during the trial, Blake's emotions didn't appear to be genuine, claiming the actor was "turning it on and off".

Defence attorney M GERALD SCHWARTZBACH accused the prosecution of relying on drug-users RONALD 'DUFFY' HAMBLETON and GARY McLARTY as witnesses.

Schwartzbach said, "They convicted Mr Blake on the night of the murder and then they conducted an incompetent investigation."

Samuels alleges Blake hated Bakley because she tricked him into marrying her by falling pregnant with their daughter ROSIE, who Blake became obsessed with.

Samuels accused Blake of repeatedly attempting to solicit hitmen to kill his wife and finally resorted to the deed himself.

The deputy DA explains, "He shot people on TV, he shot people in the movies, but he never really shot in real life. It freaked him out."

The trial continues.

03/03/2005 09:56