Judge says ‘resolution’ possible in Bashara murder case

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — In what was to be the final conference before Bob Bashara goes on trial on murder charges, a Wayne Circuit judge on Monday suggested he consider whether to accept “a potential resolution” that was discussed privately in the judge’s chambers.

“There’s a chance that there may be a potential resolution,” Judge Vonda Evans told Bashara, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 24, 2012, slaying of his wife, Jane Bashara. “I want to explore that. There’s a lot at stake here. There’s a lot at stake as far as you’re concerned; you’re 57 years old ... your children, and the community at large.”

Discussion of the potential resolution came after several motions by prosecutors and defense attorneys about what evidence should be allowed into trial. After the hearing, which lasted about an hour and a half, the judge called both sides into her chambers for about 15 minutes, before emerging with the news there could be a potential resolution.

The judge told Bashara he should carefully consider whether to accept the possible offer.

“I want you to think about it. Look at the evidence like you would be consulting a friend instead of yourself. What would you do? What would you tell your best friend about everything that’s been presented? I want you to do that with whatever they’re going to go over, and what we’re going to discuss. And, whatever you decide, you’re going to get more than a fair trial.”

“However, I do believe that there is a last-ditch opportunity to have some type of resolution,” the judge said. “I’m not going to say any more to that.”

Evans ordered the parties to return to her courtroom Sept. 24 to discuss the possible resolution. The trial is set to begin Oct. 6.

After Monday’s hearing, Bashara’s attorney Lillian Diablo was asked whether she was working on a plea deal with prosecutors. She said she couldn’t comment, citing a gag order, but added: “Stay tuned for further developments.”

Also during Monday’s hearing, Evans dropped a felony firearm charge against Bashara. Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey argued he lied when he said on a “Dateline NBC” interview he didn’t have a gun. A family member later found a pistol inside a safe.

Evans also ruled Bashara’s involvement in the sexual bondage lifestyle could be admitted during trial, but not what Lindsey called an “obsession” he had with erotic asphyxiation. Bashara was strangled to death inside the couple’s Grosse Pointe Park garage, but Evans said that had nothing to do with Bashara’s affinity for that kind of sex.

Prosecutors say Bashara killed his wife so he could pursue his alternative lifestyle, in which he attended parties in a dungeon beneath a Detroit bar he owned. During the parties, he was known as “Master Bob.”

According to prosecutors, Bashara paid his handyman, Joseph Gentz, to kill Jane and leave her body inside her SUV in an alley on the east side of Detroit.

Gentz is in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. He has said Robert Bashara threatened to kill him unless he followed orders.

Robert Bashara in interviews repeatedly has denied any role in his wife’s death, although he pleaded guilty in 2012 to trying to have Gentz killed in jail.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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