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A Tale of Two Mommies

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Tonight, every media outlet in Los Angeles will lead with the news that Robert Blake was acquitted of charges that he murdered or conspired to murder his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakely, because he feared that she would be a terrible mother to their daughter.Coincidently, Scott Peterson was sentenced to death for killing his wife and their unborn son in Northern California.

Both cases played out in a blaze of publicity and circumstantial evidence. We wonder if the manner in which each victim was portrayed to their respective juries affected each outcome: Laci Peterson was always portrayed as a saint and few will be able to forget the image of her smiling face in photographs posted on television screens during the fruitless search operation during the Xmas season of 2002. Her murder trial constantly featured her picture, clothing and video tapes. Her spirit was around that courtroom on a consistent basis.

In contrast, Bonnie Lee Bakely's bad behavior, rather than her personality as in the Peterson trail, was always the focal point in the Blake trial; the prosecution included testimony about Blake's contempt for his wife due to her promiscuity and criminal background as motivation to prove his ambition to kill her and raise their child alone, thereby helping the defense to distract the jury from the real crime: a defenseless woman was killed while sitting in her own car. Bakely may not have been very sympathetic but she was the victim in this trial, not Blake.

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We also wonder if Los Angeles juries are ever capable of convicting anyone who is a celebrity. Perhaps, Blake could afford slicker lawyers who were more effective in selling their client's innocence than Peterson. The Los Angeles Times quoted the actor outside the courtroom " "Thank God," he said, congratulating the roster of aides. "I'm broke, I need a job," he added, explaining how he went through $10 million in five years to fund his defense."