DETROIT — Details are beginning to emerge in the January 2012 murder of Jane Bashara as prosecuting attorneys started to lay out their case against her husband, Bob Bashara, at a preliminary examination conference Monday, Aug. 19, in Detroit’s 36th District Court.
Wayne County assistant prosecutor Lisa Lindsey told Judge Kenneth King her office has evidence, primarily obtained through witness statements, showing Bob Bashara approached several people about “doing harm” to another person. According to those witnesses, who were identified only by number at the hearing, Bob Bashara discussed paying someone to cause a hit and run accident that would involve a Grosse Pointe woman who drove a luxury SUV.
Jane Bashara, a marketing executive, drove a Mercedes Benz SUV.
Of particular interest are the 472 phone calls exchanged between Bob Bashara and handyman Joe Gentz, that began September 2011 and ended a few days after Jane Bashara’s murder Jan. 24, 2012, with the final call to Gentz placed Jan. 26 from a cellphone owned by Nancy Bashara, Bob Bashara’s mother.
Gentz has confessed to murdering Jane Bashara, but said he did so at the behest of her husband. According to Lindsey, Bob Bashara hand delivered a check for $457 to Gentz Jan. 27.
Bob Bashara, who attended the conference via video from the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, blurted out, “The check was for $452.”
King admonished Bashara to be quiet.
“I just wanted to set the record straight,” Bob Bashara told the judge.
According to Lindsey, Bob Bashara and Gentz did not know each other prior to September 2011, and several other handymen who worked for Bob Bashara said they had never encountered Gentz prior to that date. Phone records indicate Bob Bashara and Gentz exchanged nine phone calls that month, 147 in October, 152 in November, 62 in December and 102 in January 2012. Thirty three calls were exchanged between the two men between Jan. 21 and Jan. 24, the day Bashara reported his wife missing. Jane Bashara’s body was found in the backseat of her SUV the morning of Jan. 25. She had been strangled and the SUV was abandoned in an alley in Detroit.
Defense attorney Rene Cooper said the phone calls showed no evidence of a conspiracy between Bob Bashara and Gentz.
“Any phone conversations are unimportant if we don’t know what they contained,” Cooper told the court.
But a text message Gentz sent to an unidentified woman on Dec. 10, 2011, saying he knew someone “about to do someone in,” and closing with, “I don’t want to die,” went to Gentz’s state of mind according to Lindsey, and Gentz’s state of mind should be allowed in as evidence in the conspiracy charge against Bashara.
Bob Bashara is facing six counts in all, including first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder, suborning of perjury during a capital trial, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice.
Monday’s hearing was held to act on motions filed by the prosecutor to admit Gentz’s state of mind as evidence in the conspiracy charge and to statements by a co-conspirator.
King admitted the evidence related to Gentz’s state of mind, but would hold the other in abeyance.
The hearing began with a terse exchange between attorneys, when Lindsey referred to one witness as a “friend from Mr. Bashara’s BDSM lifestyle.” Cooper challenged the statement, asking if the prosecution was going to “taint him with that BDSM lifestyle.”
BDSM refers to a sexual lifestyle involving bondage, discipline, sadomasochism and masochism. Cooper told the court defense attorneys had worked hard to keep information regarding that lifestyle confidential and objected to Lindsey’s use of the term in relation to his client.
Lindsey responded lifestyle will be shown to be a motive in the murder of Jane Bashara, while King reminded Cooper this was not the first time anyone has heard of BDSM in relation to the case.
Also at Monday’s hearing, Bashara’s attorneys asked that their client be moved downstate from the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee in order to prepare for the preliminary examination scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9. Bashara is serving a term of up to 20 years for soliciting a hit man to kill Joe Gentz.
“We have to make a four-hour drive to see our client,” Mark Proceda told the court, asking for Bob Bashara to be moved to a Wayne County facility.