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Gun testimony contradicts Bashara claim he was pacifist

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Robert Bashara

Detroit — Robert Bashara claimed during media interviews in the weeks after his wife's death that he was a "pacifist" who had never owned a gun — a claim refuted Wednesday by his mother and cousin.

Bashara is accused of hiring his handyman, Joseph Gentz, to kill his wife, Jane, in their garage Jan. 24, 2012. Shortly after the killing, Gentz told police his boss had forced him at gunpoint to fatally strangle the victim.

When the media reported Gentz's claim, Bashara insisted during interviews it couldn't be true, since he'd never owned a firearm.

"I'm not a violent man," Bashara said during a "Dateline" interview that was played for the jury Wednesday. "I'm a pacifist, really. I quit playing football because I didn't like hitting people."

But Bashara's mother, Nancy Bashara, and his cousin, Stephanie Samuel, both testified Wednesday that Bashara had secretly given his mother a gun, hidden among other effects, to store inside a safe deposit box.

They were among three witnesses Wednesday in the murder-for-hire trial. Also testifying: Bashara's aunt, also his godmother, Gwendolyn Samuel.

Bashara is charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded guilty to trying to have Gentz killed in jail and is serving up to 20 years in prison.

On Wednesday, Nancy Bashara said after Jane Bashara's death, her son asked her to store a bag of jewelry and other items meant for his son, Robert Jr., in a Comerica Bank safe deposit box. She said she didn't know there also was a gun in the bag, which was inside a case, until she opened the bag a while later.

"I didn't know what to do, and I needed advice on what to do," said Nancy Bashara, who was given immunity for her testimony because she didn't tell authorities about the gun.

Stephanie Samuel also was present when the gun was discovered at the bank.

"I said 'Holy (expletive)!'" she recalled. "My eyes got big. I said, 'This looks like this is incriminating evidence.' "

Bashara's mother said she took the gun home, and the next day told her son's attorney, David Griem, about it.

"He didn't want to take it," she said.

Griem was later charged with improperly sharing evidence, and ordered to pay an $8,000 fine.

Prosecutors say Bashara had his wife killed so he could live a bondage, discipline and sadomasochistic lifestyle with Rachel Gillett, his longtime girlfriend.

On Wednesday, Bashara's godmother said she was "floored" to learn he had slept in his marital bed with a woman who wasn't his wife — a night that was discussed earlier in the trial by Gillett, who said she had to sleep on the floor while Bashara was in the bed with an unnamed woman.

Gwendolyn Samuel said she had no idea he was having an affair.

"That absolutely floored me," she said.

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