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Blake case attorneys at odds

Blake at his April 22 arraignment.
Blake at his April 22 arraignment.  

From Charles Feldman
CNN Los Angeles Bureau

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Attorneys for actor Robert Blake and co-defendant Earle Caldwell say they cannot be ready for an important preliminary hearing within 10 days because prosecutors only recently turned over to them more than 7,000 pages of additional discovery material.

Prosecutors plan to urge a judge Tuesday afternoon to schedule a preliminary hearing in the murder case within 10 days, arguing the defense has had ample time to review much of the discovery material, according to court documents.

Prosecutors contend California law requires full disclosure of discovery material to the defense only 30 days before the trial.

Blake is charged with murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. Caldwell, Blake's former bodyguard, is charged with conspiracy to murder.

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The preliminary hearing will be the first opportunity for the government to lay out some of its case.

Discovery material is what police and prosecutors gather in the course of their investigation. By law, it must be shared with defense lawyers.

"I personally must view all the pages, even if they are not relevant to his charges," said Caldwell's lawyer, Arna Zlotnik. "I must listen to over 240 audio tapes, and you can't 'speed-hear' those."

Calling the prosecutors' actions "outrageous" and "unprofessional," Zlotnik contended that mid-November would be a more reasonable time to hold a preliminary hearing. Blake's attorney, Harland Braun, had made a similar argument.

Zlotnik told CNN that Caldwell is "hanging in there" and the entire process has been "very, very hard on him."

Both attorneys say they have prior commitments that make it all but impossible for them to take part in the preliminary hearing until mid-November. The actual trial will probably not begin until March or April and is expected to last two to three months.

"There's no more reason for delay ... they have had ample discovery," said Los Angeles County district attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

"There's more than enough to go to a preliminary hearing. We want a preliminary hearing in the next 10 days."

The presiding judge will allow live television coverage of Tuesday's hearing, but Braun lawyer plans to argue against TV coverage.

Braun -- who has taken his defense case to the public via numerous TV appearances -- argued in a defense motion that cameras in the court "makes the ascertainment of the truth more difficult."

A spokesman for the district attorney's office was unavailable for comment.




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