By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 10, 2003 01:15 PM

Prosecutors in Los Angeles are due to conclude their preliminary hearing case against Robert Blake this week in an effort to convince Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash that there is sufficient evidence to try the ex-“Baretta” star for the May 2001 murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, reports the Associated Press.

Blake, 69, is accused of killing Bakley in the couple’s parked car after the two dined at a restaurant near their San Fernando Valley home. They had recently wed after she had a daughter by him. Blake’s handyman-bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, also is accused of conspiracy in the killing.

Blake has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

In startling testimony last week, two retired Hollywood stuntmen said Blake tried to hire them to kill Bakley. But Blake’s lawyer, Tom Mesereau, contends that the two men are shady characters themselves and their testimony can’t be trustworthy.

District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons tells AP that police detectives, bank records custodians and scientific witnesses would round out Monday’s session of the preliminary hearing.

“I’m hoping we will conclude our evidence early this week,” she said, noting that this week’s schedule would depend heavily on the cross-examinations by Mesereau.

For his part, Mesereau tells AP that he believes the hearing can be concluded Wednesday because the prosecutors are shortening their presentation.

“They’re cutting back their witness list by leaps and bounds,” he said. “I think they’re running scared.”

He added, “The major issue now is forensics, and they can’t connect the gun to Robert.”