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Friend says Bashara was 'flippant' after wife's death

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — As Robert Bashara prepared to speak to the media outside his house in the wake of his wife's slaying, he uttered a "flippant" remark, his friend said.

"He reached in his pocket, pulled out a hanky, and said something to the effect of, 'I better have one of these,' " Grosse Pointe Park resident Michael Carmody testified Thursday in Bashara's murder-for-hire trial. "It wasn't something that seemed to be taken as serious. It was flippant."

Bashara dabbed at his eyes, but there were no tears during the Feb. 1, 2012, press conference, held eight days after Jane Bashara was fatally strangled inside her garage. Earlier in the trial, Bashara's son, Robert Jr., testified his dad hadn't cried during the press briefing.

Bashara later told reporters: "I just dabbed my eyes because I thought there was a tear."

Carmody was one of three witnesses who testified Thursday in the trial's in its seventh week. He said he had drinks with Bashara at the Hard Luck Lounge the night of the slaying.

Prosecutors say Bashara paid his handyman, Joseph Gentz, to kill his wife so he could immerse himself in the bondage, discipline and sadomasochistic lifestyle with his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett.

Earlier Thursday, the man who convinced Gentz to confess to killing Jane Bashara testified. Steven Virgona, Gentz's longtime friend, said Gentz tried to recruit him to kill someone a few weeks before the slaying.

Virgona said Gentz told him in December 2011: "This guy Bob wants to do a hit-and-run on his wife. He wants his wife knocked off. I said, 'I don't want nothing to do with it.' "

After the killing, Virgona said Gentz tearfully confessed.

"I was asking about (Jane Bashara's) body ... and he stated her neck was broken," Virgona said.

Virgona said he and someone known as "Pastor Dan" talked Gentz into turning himself in, and drove him to the Grosse Pointe Park police station.

Gentz, who is developmentally delayed, told investigators Bashara forced him at gunpoint to kill Jane Bashara in her garage. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a 17-28 year prison sentence.

As part of his plea deal, Gentz agreed to testify against Bashara — but he went back on that agreement before the trial began in October, when prosecutors refused his request to reduce his sentence to five years.

Bashara is serving up to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to trying to have Gentz killed in jail. He is on trial for first-degree murder.

Shortly after Jane Bashara's slaying, Carmody said he warned Bashara several times not to lie to him, because he could be called as a witness.

On Thursday, Carmody said he found out Bashara had lied to him about Gillett, whom he had insisted was merely a friend.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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