Detective Robert Bub said he was simply confused last week when he took the stand in the Robert Blake case. Bub testified about what he insisted was his one and only interview with a waitress who served Blake and his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, on their final night at Vitello's Restaurant.
What the waitress told him has become crucial to the case: She said Blake made his first-ever reservation with her that night and that his table was bused right after the couple left the restaurant and no gun was found. These bits of information are key: Prosecutors say Blake usually didn't make reservations, but did so that night to draw attention to the time he and Bakley arrived. If their table was bused right after they left, Blake could have a harder time convincing jurors that he returned to the restaurant to get a gun he forgot at his table.
There's one problem, however.
The waitress, Robin Robichaux, contradicted much of what she told the detective in a follow-up conversation with him. But the detective, on the stand, said a second interview never took place.
Outside the Van Nuys courtroom, when confronted by the L.A. Weekly, which had obtained a copy of the tape of the second interview, Bub said, “I've racked my brain, and I just can't seem to remember that phone interview with Robichaux. I could be wrong. I've made mistakes before.”
On the stand, Bub — in response to a point-blank question from defense attorney Thomas Mesereau — said he did not have a second interview with the waitress. “Not that I conducted, not that I recall, no,” the detective said.
Two days later, Bub acknowledged that there was a second interview. In that interview, the waitress contradicted much of her first interview. She said Blake often made reservations and that his table was not bused immediately after he left the restaurant.
“Apparently, I was mistaken. I did do the interview,” said Bub. “But I can assure you it was just a mistake, a memory lapse on my part. However, I'm sure Mr. Mesereau will try to weave it into something sinister. But it was just a memory lapse.”
At the close of last week's preliminary hearing, the judge ruled that the evidence warrants a trial, which could get under way in May.
In the second interview, Robichaux told Bub that her memory was jogged by a TV report claiming Blake had never made a reservation. “It reminded me of one of the times I had taken reservations [from Blake]. And a couple of other waiters here have taken reservations,” she says.
Robichaux also told Bub about another waitress, who allegedly was making up stories to sell to Globe Magazine and asked her to join in. “She called me at home and tried to get me to go with the Globe Magazine for $400 to tell my story. And she says this and that, and I said, 'No, it isn't true. It's just the opposite. And I wouldn't touch them if they paid me 10 times this much.'”
On the tape, Bub never asks her who this waitress is or what else she may have been lying about. Robichaux tells Bub she is very worried that the false information being leaked by this waitress to Globe Magazine will be blamed on her. “They are putting so much pressure on people that I think they are getting them to change their stories for money. And I have a personal incident where that happened. And we are talking about a lot of money,” says Robichaux.
Bub then asks Robichaux if she knows which busboy cleaned Blake's table. And Robichaux responds, “I don't know who bused the table. They all say they didn't get there right away.” Robichaux also tells Bub that Blake's table was probably not cleaned right after Blake and Bakley finished dining. “They were all busing in the back. That was what they kept saying,” she says. “That particular table is the last one bused because they can't see it from their bus station.”
Finally, Bub queries her about the gun, asking if anyone found anything at the table that night. Robichaux says, “No, definitely not. Somebody would know. There are no tight lips on this ship.”
During closing arguments, Mesereau said that Robichaux told detectives Blake would “zip in and zip out” of the restaurant unnoticed at times. “And since the table was not bused right away, my client could have come in and gotten his gun without anyone knowing about it.”
Asked why he didn't query Robichaux on the identity of the waitress who was allegedly lying to the press about details of Blake and Bakley's final dinner, Bub responded, “I assumed she was talking about Yvonne Isaacs.” Isaacs is the waitress who detectives testified allegedly found Blake's vomit in the restaurant's bathroom wastebasket. The prosecution has claimed Blake threw up because he was nervous that night. “I wasn't concerned she was lying to police. We had also interviewed another customer who also saw the vomit. And the other things she said weren't that important to our case.”