August 28, 2002 11:50 AM

A Los Angeles judge granted an extension in the Robert Blake case Tuesday, allowing the ex-“Baretta” star and his co-defendant, bodyguard Earle Caldwell, more time to prepare their defense against charges of killing the actor’s wife, the Associated Press reports. Judge Lloyd Nash did, however, set a Nov. 17 preliminary hearing date. (He also refused to permit TV cameras in the courtroom once the preliminary hearing is held.) “I just want to make sure they are adequately prepared,” Nash told prosecutors, who opposed the delay. The preliminary hearing is meant to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to bring the two men to trial. Blake’s lawyer, Harland Braun, told the AP he was happy with the decision. “I got a nice sense that everything will be handled fairly and expeditiously.” Blake, 68, who has been jailed without bail since his arrest last April 18, is charged with murder, conspiracy, solicitation to murder and the special circumstance of lying in wait following the May 2001 shooting death of Bonny Lee Bakley, 44. She was killed while outside a Studio City, Calif., Italian restaurant where the couple just dined. Caldwell, who is free on $1 million bail, is accused of conspiracy to murder. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

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