Convicted murderer and former Grosse Pointe Park businessman Bob Bashara insists he did not get a fair trial because the media smeared him and his lawyers didn’t properly defend him.
The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed Thursday, denying his appeal.
After a lengthy, often raucous trial, Bashara was convicted in 2014 orchestrating the Jan. 24, 2012, murder of his wife, Jane Bashara. Bashara paid his handyman, Joseph Gentz, to strangle her in the couple’s garage. Gentz pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Prosecutors alleged Bashara killed his wife so he could immerse himself in the bondage, discipline and sadomasochistic lifestyle. He planned to move into a house with two submissive women serving him.
The appellate court said in its 34-page ruling: “In considering the chronology of the events giving rise to Jane’s death, it is clear that the jury reached the correct result.”
After his conviction, Bashara asked for a new trial, claiming his attorneys, Lillian Diallo and Mike McCarthy, failed to highlight his philanthropic work, including his long tenure in the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club.
Diallo insisted Thursday that she and McCarthy provided Bashara with a thorough defense.
“We went over and above the call of duty to make sure he was well-represented,” Diallo said. “You get an appellate attorney who wants to make something out of nothing, because that’s their job. (Bashara) was well-represented. This wasn’t a drive-by representation; we were very engaged and active every day.”
Bashara also said during his attempt for a new trial that media coverage tainted the jury.
“This media did everything in their power ... to corrupt my case prior to me even coming to trial,” Bashara said, before turning to reporters and saying, “Sorry, fellas.”
Bashara said he wanted a change of venue, but said his attorneys refused to seek one. When asked why he wanted the venue change, he said: “There was no way I could get a fair trial ... because of the brood of vipers that is the media.”
After 10 months of hearings, Wayne Circuit Judge Vonda Evans denied Bashara’s request for a new trial. His attorney Ronald Ambrose appealed the decision. Ambrose did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.
“On appeal, defendant argues that the prejudicial media coverage of him and his alternative lifestyle went far beyond mere factual reporting and permeated the community to such an extent that Wayne County was an inappropriate venue for his case,” the appellate court decision said. “There is no dispute that the media coverage of this case was extensive. However, it is important to ‘(distinguish) largely factual publicity from that which is invidious or inflammatory.’
“Defendant failed to offer any specific evidence in the trial court —whether during trial or during the postconviction proceedings — showing that the media coverage of this case was anything other than nonsensational, factual coverage, or that the coverage was highly inflammatory or sensational in such a way as to prejudice him,” the decision said.
The appellate court decision effectively ends Bashara’s attempts to overturn his conviction, unless the state Supreme Court agrees to hear the case.
“This was a long and hard fought trial,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller said in a statement Thursday. “It concluded when Defendant Bashara was convicted by a jury of his peers, and sentenced to serve life in prison without parole. We are pleased with the decision by the Court of Appeals to uphold his convictions.”