Friend says he was asked to cover for Bashara

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A month before Jane Bashara was murdered, her husband, Robert Bashara, called a friend with whom he often smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine on the golf course of a ritzy country club, and asked him to lie.

James Wilson, who was a member of the Lochmoor Country Club in Grosse Pointe Woods, was among four witnesses who took the stand Monday, the fourth day of testimony in the murder-for-hire case against Bashara, who is accused of hiring his handyman, Joe Gentz, to kill his wife, Jane Bashara, in January 2012.

Wilson said Bashara approached him in December 2011 about providing an alibi.

"Bob called and said … 'I need you to cover for me this weekend. If anybody asks you (tell them) I'm with you,'" Wilson said.

Wilson said he replied to the request: "I better not get a phone call. I didn't want to lie to Jane."

Prosecutors say Bashara wanted his wife dead so he could pursue a bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM) lifestyle with his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett.

Gillett testified over two days last week that when she met Bashara on the website, which caters to BDSM aficionados, he claimed he was a widower. She further testified that she tried to get out of that lifestyle and break up with Bashara several times, only to be wooed back.

Wilson said Monday that Bashara, who, along with Jane, hosted euchre parties at their Grosse Pointe Park home, confided in him, "I like to spank girls."

"I'd say, 'Oh, OK; that's your deal,'" Wilson said. "He told me Jane didn't like getting spanked."

Wilson said he and Bashara often smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine on the golf course at the Lochmoor Country Club in Grosse Pointe Woods.

"It's a little safer on the golf course than in the club," Wilson said. "There was not a lot of people around; they were illegal drugs."

Earlier Monday, financial adviser Charles Gabel, who also knew Bashara from the country club, said the defendant approached him about investing in a business deal involving "a longtime college friend who owns 11.5 acres in Milan, who needs some help."

The "college friend" was, in fact, Patrick Webb, Bashara's friend from the BDSM scene, where he was known as "Sir Patrick." Webb eventually built a large sex dungeon on the property that was known as the A2 Reformatory.

Gabel said he didn't invest in the deal.

Also testifying Monday were ATF Agent Stan Brue, a cellphone expert who chronicled the phone calls Bashara made to Gillett and Gentz; and Roxanne Flaska, a neighbor and friend of Jane Bashara's, who said Robert Bashara acted strangely the night of the murder, when he told her Jane was missing.

"I felt it odd, in that he was worried she was missing, but he was not visibly upset," Flaska said.

Flaska said she picked up Bashara's daughter, Jessica, from her apartment near the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"When we got in the car … she said, 'Mrs. Flaska, someone murdered my mother,'" Flaska testified. "I said, 'We don't know, honey.' She said 'My dad said that.'"

After Monday's testimony, a hearing was held for a homeless woman, Frances Natale, who said she'd been involved with Gentz. She was arrested Friday after months of authorities trying to get in touch with her. Judge Vonda Evans ordered her jailed in lieu of $50,000 bond, and she must also wear a tether. Natale will likely testify next week, Evans said.

Bashara is charged with first-degree murder, among other charges that include obstruction of justice and intimidation of witnesses.

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