Actor Robert Blake gets new lawyers for murder trial

— Actor Robert Blake switched lawyers Tuesday after he told a judge he and longtime defense attorney Harland Braun have irreconcilable differences.

Blake, who is charged with killing his wife, told Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash he remembered the judge suggesting he could get bail once evidence was examined at the preliminary hearing, which has yet to be held.

"I've been here a long time," said Blake, who remains jailed without bail. "Seven months later I'm still sitting in a cement box."

"Are you telling me there is a breakdown between you and Mr. Braun that is irreconcilable?" Nash asked.

"Yes," Blake said.

The judge reluctantly allowed Braun to leave the case. Nash also scheduled a Dec. 6 hearing to set a new date for the preliminary hearing.

Blake, 69, star of the old "Baretta" TV series, is charged with murdering Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, outside a restaurant where they had just dined on May 4, 2001.

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AP Photo

Robert Blake's new lawyers, Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., left, and Jennifer L. Keller speak after a hearing in a Los Angeles Superior Court. At the hearing Tuesday, Blake switched lawyers in his murder case, telling a judge that he and longtime defense attorney Harland Braun have irreconcilable differences.

Braun, who represented Blake since the outset, said last month that he was resigning after the actor agreed to an on-camera network interview without consulting him. The interview did not take place, but Braun did not rescind his resignation.

Blake will now be represented by two highly regarded lawyers, Thomas Mesereau Jr. and Jennifer Keller. Both declined to comment until they have had time to review the case.

Mesereau's former clients include Mike Tyson, in a 2001 case in which San Bernardino County prosecutors decided not to file rape charges against the boxer.

Keller is a former president of the Orange County Bar Assn. She has been involved in cases ranging from murder to alleged misconduct by a judge and a trial involving alleged rapes of prostitutes.

Keller had reservations on United Airlines Flight 175, one of the hijacked planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. She missed the flight after a trial ran long.

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