Robert Blake better get used to his jailhouse digs--he's going to be there for a while.

Blake's latest bid for bail was rejected late Tuesday by California's state Court of Appeal.

Two weeks ago, the actor's attorneys called on the panel to force the lower-court judge overseeing Blake's murder case to hold a bail hearing for the actor, but the appellate court turned the motion down without comment.

The court, which announced its ruling via an email to Blake attorney Harland Braun, also rejected the actor's attempt to have a special-circumstance charge tossed out. In doing so, the appellate court essentially agreed with prosecutors that there was enough evidence that Blake was "lying in wait" in the May 4, 2001 murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, outside a Los Angeles-area restaurant to warrant the charge. Such a charge makes the accused ineligible for bail.

The 68-year-old Blake has been behind bars since his April 18 arrest on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder. He has pleaded innocent to all counts.

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> Blake still has a chance to get out of his cell, but not for a long time. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash suggested at a June 27 hearing that he would be open to granting bail should Blake's legal team provide ample evidence against the lying in wait accusation.

But Nash said that wouldn't happen until September at the earliest, after he holds a preliminary hearing to review all of the evidence and determine whether Blake will actually stand trial. Braun, however, says it might take until November due to the voluminous amount of prosecution paperwork he needs to plow through.

In filing the appeal last month, Braun argued in court papers that Blake had "a clearly established right to a bail hearing" and asserted that the prosecution was using a "purely legal issue"--i.e. the lying in wait charge--to keep Blake in the clink.

Braun also asserted that keeping his client in jail has prevented the attorney from effectively mounting a proper defense, since sheriff deputies routinely monitor Blake's phone calls in the slammer.

The special circumstance in question centers around the prosecution's theory that Blake tried unsuccessfully to hire two stuntmen to "whack" Bakley, before doing the dirty work himself. Usually the charge is applied when seeking the death penalty, but the Los Angeles District Attorney's office said it has no plans to seek such a fate for Blake, preferring a life sentence instead.

Because they see him as a major flight risk, however, prosecutors have used the lying in wait claim as a means of denying him bail, according to Braun--an action the state appeals court apparently felt was justified.

After Tuesday's ruling, which was expected by prosecutors, Braun vowed to take the bail issue all the way to the California Supreme Court.

Blake's next court appearance is scheduled for August 27, after which the prelim hearing is expected to get underway 10 days later.

Meanwhile, a separate group of lawyers is set to convene in a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday for a hearing to determine whether Blake's family or Bakley's family gets custody of the couple's infant daughter, Rosie.

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