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— The man who was with Robert Bashara the night his wife was killed said Monday he felt manipulated into providing the Grosse Pointe Park businessman a cover story.

Michael Carmody said Bashara asked him to meet for drinks at the Hard Luck Lounge on Mack Avenue on Jan. 24, 2012, the night Jane Bashara was strangled in her garage.

"I have a strong belief … that I was manipulated … to form a credible alibi for Bob," Carmody said Monday.

He said he felt his friendship with Bashara was based on lies.

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"I came to the conclusion that if Bob's lips were moving, he was telling me a lie," he said. "It was a horrible set of circumstances ... that tore apart a friendship that apparently never existed. It was all part of the game."

Carmody was one of seven witnesses Monday in Bashara's murder-for-hire trial that entered its eighth week.

Bashara's handyman, Joseph Gentz, has pleaded guilty to killing Jane Bashara, but he said he did so because Bashara ordered him to at gunpoint. Bashara is serving up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to trying to have Gentz killed in jail.

Prosecutors say Bashara wanted his wife killed so he could collect her 401(k) money and pursue a bondage, discipline and sadomasochistic lifestyle with his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett.

The testimony Jane Bashara's best friend, Patricia Matthews, gave during the preliminary examination last year was read into the record by Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Kathleen Griffith. It was unclear why Matthews was unable to testify.

Matthews said Jane Bashara told her: "Bob always lies. She said she couldn't trust him with money or a few other things.'"

Jane Bashara also was "livid" about Bashara surfing "weird" pornographic websites, Matthews said.

Also taking the stand Monday was Eileen Stratelak, a friend of Robert and Jane Bashara, whose daughter played high school volleyball with Jessica Bashara.

Stratelak said Bashara told her after his wife died that he'd spent most of the evening at a rental property on Mack. But like other witnesses in the trial, Stratelak said he later amended his story and said he'd returned to his house at one point during the evening to retrieve keys.

Stratelak said Bashara changed his story after she confronted him about a media report that said Bashara was seen backing his SUV out of the family garage to allow Gentz to leave in Jane's SUV.

After media reports surfaced about Bashara's BDSM activities, Stratelak said she asked him about it. "He told me it wasn't about black leather; that I wouldn't understand but someday he'd explain it."

She added: "I pictured him in black leather, and I said, 'Yuck.' "

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

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