Robert Bashara's health in question

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit – — The jury in the Robert Bashara murder-for-hire case heard audio Monday of the Grosse Pointe Park businessman setting up a hit on his handyman with a furniture store owner who secretly wore a wire for the FBI.

The audio was played during the testimony of one of two witnesses Monday in the trial in which Bashara is accused of hiring Joseph Gentz to kill his wife, Jane.

After Gentz was arrested for the murder, he pleaded guilty to strangling Jane Bashara in her garage, but he says Bashara ordered him to do so at gunpoint.

Bashara pleaded guilty to trying to have Gentz killed in jail and is serving a prison sentence of up to 20 years. If convicted of the current charges that include first-degree murder, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

On Monday, prosecutors played audio recorded from a device worn by furniture store owner Steve Tibaudo. After Bashara first asked him if he could have the hit on Gentz done, Tibaudo went to authorities and agreed to wear a wire.

Tibaudo was recorded telling Bashara there were several ways he could have the hit carried out on Gentz in jail, including putting glass in his salt shaker, and using a grenade launcher. He told Bashara it would cost $20,000.

When Wayne Circuit Judge Vonda Evans asked Tibaudo if he was making up the script as he went along, the witness said: "You sort of have to wing it when you're pretending to have someone killed. It was a little (Robert) De Niro, a little (Jack) Nicholson and a little (Leonardo) DiCaprio. I pretended I was Robert De Niro in 'Goodfellas.' "

On the audio, Bashara said: "Dude, whatever it (expletive) takes. I'm trusting the hell out of you. My life's on the (expletive) line here."

Tibaudo told Bashara to complain about a broken refrigerator to signal that the hit was in motion.

Also Monday, Detroit police evidence technician David Babcock explained why Detroit detectives didn't use a bloodstain-detecting chemical in their search of the Bashara garage. Babcock said detectives are not issued the chemical Luminol.

A subsequent search by state police detectives, who did use Luminol, found a tiny blood drop with DNA belonging to Jane and Robert Bashara, and an unknown third person.

Bashara's trial continued Monday after the defendant's health prevented him from attending the proceedings last week.

Bashara reportedly collapsed in the William Dickerson Detention Facility Wednesday morning as he prepared to be taken to court. Evans suspended the proceedings until Monday.

Bashara appeared in court Monday, and his attorney, Lillian Diallo, said he's been suffering from spasms on his right side.

"I'm OK," Bashara told Evans when the judge asked how he was doing.

Evans said Wednesday she was concerned Bashara's medical issues could cause the trial to be put on hold even longer.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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