Like Baretta, Robert Blake seems to be stuck in rerun mode these days.
The erstwhile actor is trying yet again to get the California Supreme Court to punch his get-out-of-jail ticket.
Blake's legal crew has filed a new petition with the state's highest court requesting immediate bail for the 69-year-old, now snowy-haired, actor who has been incarcerated since his April 18 arrest on the charge of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.
Blake's attorney Paul Hoffman states that the government lacks "clear and convincing evidence" that Blake was lying in wait in order to commit the murder outside Vitello's restaurant in Studio City, California, on May 4, 2001. (Lying in wait is a special circumstance condition that prosecutors are citing as a reason to keep Blake locked up.)
This latest legal maneuver contends that Judge Lloyd Nash "employed a bizarre and unsupported procedure and legal analysis" when he denied Blake bail following an October 9 hearing in Van Nuys Superior Court. The judge said the written affidavits presented were "incompetent" and that he needed to hear from witnesses at a scheduled December 11 hearing before making a decision to set bail. Blake's lawyers insist that ruling was unfair and was a refusal to abide by a previous California Supreme Court order to grant immediate "bail or a meaningful bail hearing."
The new petition champions Blake's constitutional rights. "The only explanation for this unusual proceeding is the Superior Court's stubborn insistence on his right to deny petitioner a bail hearing for months on end until there is a preliminary hearing in this case," the documents read.
Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, refused to comment on the specifics of the petition, saying that Blake's lawyers hadn't "bothered to serve" her office a copy, although the press had clearly seen the petition. She did add, however, "We feel the judge's ruling is solid and will stand."
Prosecutors have already stated they will not seek the death penalty against Blake. The actor, most famous as Tony Baretta, the funky cop with the pet cockatoo in the '70s TV series, is charged with solicitation of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, along with the special circumstance allegation that Bakley was ambushed.
Hoffman, meanwhile, says the prosecution has shown no proof of the laying-in-wait issue. "That's the bar that has to be met. We are saying that the D.A. did not meet that bar," said Hoffman, who is hoping for a response within a week.
Blake's codefendant, bodyguard Earle Caldwell, remains free on $1 million bail, posted by Blake.
During a court appearance in May, Blake made a personal appeal for bail, stating that because of his dyslexia, he can't read the legal documents and needs "to be working on his case from the outside." In August, because he was "sick" of keeping his mouth shut, he gave an interview to the Associated Press proclaiming his innocence. At his last court appearance earlier this month, wire reports described him as looking "sad," as he offered in vain to post $1 million to secure his freedom.