Police: Nearly all power restored in Gaylord after tornado

Ex-girlfriend: Bashara said he wasn't respected at home

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — The state of Robert Bashara's marriage was dissected Wednesday in his murder trial with a friend saying the businessman thought it'd be cheaper to kill his wife than divorce her and his girlfriend testifying he lied about whether he was still married.

On the second day of testimony with seven witnesses taking the stand, the topics ranged from Bashara's relationship with his wife, Jane, who he's accused of hiring a hitman to kill, to crime scene details to questioning the tow truck driver who was called to the east side Detroit alley where Jane Bashara's Mercedes Benz SUV was found.

Prosecutors say Bob Bashara planned Jane Bashara's death, but his lawyer says he wasn't the mastermind.

Rachel Gillett, Bashara's girlfriend and partner at BDSM parties, was the star witness of the day. She's expected to return to the stand when the trial resumes Thursday morning in Wayne Circuit Court.

Patrick Webb, who ran a dungeon in Milan known as the "A2 Reformatory" said Bashara and Gillett attended "dozens" of parties there.

"We were all joking about strains on life, and as people talked about divorce one night, (Bashara said) 'Sometimes I think it would be cheaper to kill the (expletive),' " Webb, 45, recounted during an hour on the witness stand.

Webb said Bashara told him several times he wanted out of his marriage so he could "pursue Rachel" and immerse himself in the world of bondage, discipline and sadomasochism.

Gillett discussed how Bashara lied to her about his marital status. When they first met through an ad she placed on the BDSM website alt.com, he listed his status as widower.

"(He said) he'd been a widower for a few years (and) that he was basically raising his teenage daughter," Gillett said. She said Bashara didn't mention having a son at first.

Gillett said she became suspicious when she saw mail with Jane's name on it. She said she confronted Bashara, and broke up with him — the first of many attempted breakups. Each time, she said, he wooed her back.

Bashara often complained that he felt emasculated at home, Gillett testified.

"(He said) he wasn't respected at home; that his decisions were questioned constantly. Kind of like belittled," she said.

At one point, Bashara told Gillett his divorce had been finalized, although he said he was still living with Jane until they sold their house.


Bashara

Earlier testimony focused on an argument Bashara had with his wife at the couple's church just days before her murder.

The prosecution called William McQueen, a member of the vestry at St. Michael Episcopal Church, where Jane Bashara managed the money. Robert Bashara was an usher there and organized charity events.

McQueen testified he was counting collection money with Jane Bashara when Robert Bashara entered the counting room. It turned into an argument, which McQueen said he tuned out. Jane Bashara angrily asked Robert Bashara to leave because he wasn't allowed to be there.

"I don't think I ever recall (Jane) ever engaging in (an argument)," McQueen testified.

"You never saw Mr. Bashara put his hands on Mrs. Bashara, did you?" asked Lillian Diallo, Bashara's attorney, on cross-examination.

"No," McQueen said.

Bashara faces six counts, including solicitation of murder and first-degree murder, after prosecutors say he paid handyman Joseph Gentz in January 2012 to strangle Jane Bashara in the garage of their Grosse Pointe Park home and then dump her body in Detroit.

ghunter@detroitnews.com