The Rev. Frank Minucci
One of the few major "surprise witnesses" of the case took the stand on Tuesday, March 8th, with stunning claims that Robert Blake had approached him expressing his desire to "annihilate" his wife.
Frank Minucci, a convicted car thief and drug trafficker who also boasts of a career as a mob enforcer, came to the courtroom oddly attired in a clerical collar and gaudy, oversized jewelry, and calling himself "Brother Frank." Minucci, a swaggering, combative figure who lives in New Jersey, has also appeared in several films and now calls himself a "minister of God."
"I was a street guy, I ran numbers, loan-sharking, ran after-hours joints -- a lot of bad-guy stuff," Minucci told the court when he began his testimony.
Since then, he cooed, "I gave my life to the Lord."
Minucci is the author of a book about his "conversion" called "Brother Frank, A True Story."
During direct questioning from the prosecutor, Minucci described a 1999 phone conversation he had with Blake in which he asserted that the defendant offered him a blank check to do something not exactly specified. Blake, he said, spoke "about a broad" who was pregnant, and then talked about money. "He sounded all fired up," Minucci said of Blake. Adding that the actor had told him that "he had a house in the back of his house and he had something really heavy for me to do. He had a blank check signed. He was screaming about a broad ..."
Blake also said, according to the witness, that he wanted the "guy from Carliot's Way" - a reference to a roll that Minucci played in a ganster movie of the same name. "He said he wanted to annihilate the bitch."
"I said, 'What are you talking about?'" Minucci continued. "'You want me to whack somebody?"'
In answer, the former thug responded, Blake said he could not talk about it over the telephone.
According to Minucci, Blake then swore, "I'll kill her and the kid."
The flambouyant witness also made the claim that he had been speaking to Blake regularly since about 1998 or 1999, at least once or twice a month, sometimes in long conversations, and said that Blake would often tell him that he despised producers, directors, and women - especially the latter.
The felon-turned-preacher went on to say that Blake "talked to me a lot about problems he was having. Sometimes he was just depressed. He hated Hollywood."
He also recalled one assignment that he had carried out for Blake. Minucci said he, along with a cohort he knew only as "Cockeyed Ralphie," made obscene phones call to a woman Blake knew in the New York area. In one call, "Ralphie" expressly threatened the woman, saying he was coming over to her house. "He told her he was going to rip her laundry off and do dirty things to her." In a second call, Minucci himself called and, he continued, said that the woman responded to his provocation by asking "how big it was."
"How big is what?" asked the prosecutor, Shellie Samuels.
"My whoosie-whatsie," Minucci answered, to laughter in the courtroom. Even Blake managed a smile.
Minucci said a few days later, he was called again by Blake and told not to continue the harrassment. "So we backed off it," the witness said. He also claimed that he got some cash in an envelope, presumably from Blake, for "taking care of" the task.
When asked on cross-examination for the identity of "Cockeyed Ralphie," Minucci would only say, "I don't know. And that's my answer. I don't know. There's a lot of us, we don't ask names."
Minucci appeared confused under questioning from Blake attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach. At one point, the judge admonished him about giving overly long answers to questions that were meant to elicit nothing more than a "yes" or "no." Said the witness, "I don't have a Harvard degree you honor, so you got to help me out here."
At other times, the witness seemed combative. After another reminder from the judge, Minucci retorted, "There'll be none of that. You ask me a question, I want to give an answer."
Minucci also told the court that he had been wearing his preacher's collar when he made the obscene phone calls. And on another occasion, he hedged an answer, saying about Schwartzbach, "I don't want to upset my brother here."
"You're not my brother," Schwartzbach countered.
But the colorful and often incredible Minucci testimony would turn out to be more sideshow that instructive, when phone records showed that Minucci and Blake hadn't spoken since early 2000, before Blake had married Bakley and even before the birth of the baby, Rosie. Moreover, the hours-long conversations between the two, in which they supposedly discussed everything from childhood to Hollywood, had never taken place. The longest phone call between the two of them was less than 17 minutes in length.
Gary McLarty, the former stuntman who testified the previous day, also made a brief appearance, as the Samuels attempted to rehabilitate him. But in the end, it only got worse. The witness claimed to have been "telepathic" (able to read minds) since his youth.