DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Crime

Eyeing Robert Blake's Accusers

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McLarty Divorce

McLarty Judgment

McLarty Property Violations

McLarty Warrant

Looks like Robert Blake's attorney will have plenty of cross-examination material available when it comes to the two down-on-their-luck stuntmen who reportedly will testify that the actor tried to separately hire them to kill his wife. Here's what we've been able to find out about Ronald Hambleton and Gary McLarty, both of whom will surely have their motives (financial? revenge? jealousy?) questioned by Blake attorney Harland Braun:

HAMBLETON: The 65-year-old California man is currently facing weapons charges stemming from a bizarre 1999 incident at his Lucerne Valley home. On December 26 of that year, Hambleton called 911 and claimed that unnamed "people were stealing property at his house," according to San Bernardino County prosecutor Ronald Barbatoe. When sheriff's deputies responded to Hambleton's rural spread, they detected no activity at the property, which was ringed by a locked fence. The officers, Barbatoe said, then spoke to a police dispatcher, who reported that Hambleton was still on the line, and complaining about the supposedly ongoing theft.

The deputies then cut through the fence, Barbatoe said, and "got on their squad car loudspeaker and said, basically, 'Come out with your hands up.' Nothing happened for several minutes. Then Hambleton came out with a .22 rifle and pointed it at the sheriff's deputies." The retired stuntman was then arrested and charged with three misdemeanors--two counts of brandishing a firearm and one count of resisting an officer. A subsequent search of Hambleton's house and property turned up no signs of the apparently imaginary intruders.

After numerous postponements, a Superior Court trial is now set for May 13. The most recent continuance was granted when Hambleton's attorney, a San Bernardino public defender, reported that her client was "extremely ill."

During a brief TSG interview Wednesday, Hambleton said he was "not at liberty" to discuss the Blake case. Asked about any prior run-ins with the law, he said, "I'm sure I've been arrested some other times." That criminal history must be one focus of Blake's defense team, which apparently began probing Hambleton months before murder charges were filed against the 68-year-old actor. In fact, here's the letter Scott Ross, Blake's private investigator, sent to court officials seeking a copy of the Hambleton docket. Ross faxed his request in mid-January, three months before Blake's arrest. He must have had a premonition that Hambleton might be a future problem.

MCLARTY: Any cross-examination of this 61-year-old retiree will surely touch on a variety of domestic disturbances. Last year, McLarty's estranged wife Karen filed for divorce in Los Angeles and sought support payments for herself and the couple's sickly daughter. In a May 2001 response to the divorce complaint, McLarty stated that, due to illness, "I have a very low standard of living." He claimed to be "living off the sale of firewood and some residuals that would come in," and had a monthly income of slightly more than $1300. He also acknowledged that, at the time, "taxes have not been filed for two years."

In early-1995, McLarty was sued by the Riverside, California district attorney in a child support case. After McLarty failed to respond to the D.A.'s civil complaint, the prosecutor secured a default judgment (and wage garnishment order) from a Superior Court judge. McLarty, then separated from his wife, was ordered to make monthly payments to support his daughter Karra, who was then 16 and living with McLarty's sister-in-law.

McLarty would have one other legal problem in 1995, records show. In May, he was hit (along with his wife) with seven misdemeanor violations of Los Angeles's municipal code, charges stemming from a variety of illegal construction work performed on a property owned by the couple. According to court records and a spokesman for the L.A. City Attorney, the McLartys made an initial appearance in Van Nuys Municipal Court, but when they failed to show for their July arraignment, a judge issued a bench warrant for the pair. To this day, the warrant remains outstanding and the misdemeanor case is still open, said Frank Mateljan, City Attorney spokesman. It's probably a good bet the matter will be resolved before McLarty takes the stand against Blake.