Woman testifies Bashara asked her to hide girlfriend
Detroit — Cell tower analysis revealed Robert Bashara's phone was in the same area as his wife's immediately after she was killed in the garage of their Grosse Pointe Park home, an FBI agent testified Wednesday.
The dry discussion about how phones are tracked was in stark contrast to stories later in the day about kinky sex, whips and other implements and how Bashara tried to woo an Oregon woman with a worn T-shirt and a gift card.
FBI Special Agent Christopher Hess said during Bashara's murder-for-hire trial that the couple's phones moved away from the Bashara home at about 6:26 p.m. on Jan. 24, shortly after police say Jane Bashara was strangled to death.
A few minutes later, Hess said, cell towers show Robert Bashara's phone moved toward the Hard Luck Lounge, which was in a building he owned and where his sex dungeon was housed in the basement.
Hess was one of five people who took the witness stand Wednesday in the second week of testimony. The day's star witness was Janet Leehmann of Oregon, whom Bashara hoped would join him in a threesome for sex with his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett.
When Bashara flew to Oregon to meet Leehmann about a week before his wife was killed, Leehmann said she overheard him having a conversation on the phone with his handyman, Joseph Gentz.
"What the (expletive) is wrong with you? I want this done; I want it done before I get back," Janet Leehmann recalled Bashara saying. The two met online.
Bashara is accused by prosecutors of paying Gentz to kill his wife so the former church usher and president of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club could immerse himself in a bondage, discipline and sadomasochism lifestyle.
Leehmann was a candidate to join Bashara and Gillett in the lifestyle, she testified. She and Bashara met on alt.com, the BDSM website where Bashara and Gillett also met.
But when Bashara arrived at Leehmann's Oregon residence in January 2012, she said he surprised her by being rougher than she'd anticipated.
"I wasn't expecting what I got ... a really good beating that left marks for three months," Leehmann said. "I got thrashed."
Leehmann also said Bashara choked her without her consent, causing her to pass out. She said she became afraid.
"I was trying to figure out what the heck I had gotten into, and how to get out of it," she said.
Bashara tried to woo Leehmann by sending her a T-shirt he had worn for three days with his scent on it, a leather strap and a $25 gift certificate to Olive Garden.
In a note he sent her around Christmas, he said: "This is my shirt I have worn next to my body for 3 days. It has my scent ... I remain Master Bob."
Leehmann said Bashara suffered from "E.D." When Judge Vonda Evans asked her to explain, Leehmann said: "The chairman of the board didn't show up for work. Sorry, Bob."
After Bashara left Oregon, Leehmann said he called her and asked if she knew anyone who "could be roughed up for money." When she asked why, he said it was for a former tenant who was trying to extort money from him.
When Jane's body was found, Leehmann said she asked Bashara about his request.
"He said, 'Let's just keep that to ourselves,' " Leehmann recounted.
Leehman also said after Jane Bashara was killed she got a phone call from Robert Bashara.
"He was very agitated; he wanted me to buy Rachel Gillett an airline ticket and bring her to Oregon and hide her," she said, adding that Bashara told her: "I think they're going to turn the state's evidence against me, and I need you to hide her."
Leehmann said Bashara wanted her to hide Gillett at her father's ranch in a remote location in southeast Oregon. She said she told him "absolutely not."
Leehmann said she became afraid and called police. She also testified she asked Bashara to stop contacting her, and changed her phone number and got a personal protection order to prevent future contact.
Earlier Wednesday, Secret Service agent Mark O'Riordan testified that when he interviewed Bashara on Jan. 27, 2012 — three days after Jane Bashara was strangled in her garage — Bashara seemed calm.
"I thought his affect was a bit out of character, given that earlier that evening he'd identified the body of his deceased wife," O'Riordan said.
During the interview, he said Bashara made a statement that seemed "out of the blue."
"He referred to his Rotary pin he was wearing … (and) he said 'how could I have killed my wife if I was president of the Rotary Club?' "
Bashara, who already pleaded guilty to hiring a hitman to kill Gentz in jail, and is serving up to 20 years in prison, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with his wife's death.