Judge implored jurors to rely on their "collective memory" because it would take too long to provide transcripts of testimony


Detroit Jurors deliberated all day Friday without reaching a verdict in the murder-for-hire trial of Robert Bashara.

After about an hour of deliberating Friday, jurors in the murder-for-hire trial of Robert Bashara emerged from the jury room with three requests, including transcripts from three witnesses' testimony.

The jury of nine men and three women is deciding whether Bashara is guilty of any of five charges: first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, solicitation to commit murder, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. They also may consider the lesser charge of second-degree murder in lieu of the first-degree charge.

"I don't expect them not to be deliberate; that's why they call it deliberating," Bashara's attorney Lillian Diallo said. "It's a pretty smart jury. They have a lot to put together."

Prosecutors say Bashara, who turned 57 Friday, paid his handyman Joseph Gentz to kill his wife, Jane Bashara, on Jan. 24, 2012, so he could collect her 401(k) and life insurance money, and set himself up in a bondage, discipline and sadomasochism lifestyle with his longtime girlfriend, Rachel Gillett.

The trial, which took 10 weeks, had 74 witnesses and more than 400 exhibits. Jurors began deliberating Thursday and went home after about an hour.

On Friday, jurors asked for transcripts of the testimony of Bashara's mother, Nancy Bashara; his cousin, Stephanie Samuel; a tenant, Courtney Johns; and Janet Leehman, an Oregon resident whom Bashara met on alt.com, a website for BDSM aficionados.

Wayne Circuit Judge Vonda Evans said: "You have to rely on your collective memories. Unlike modern 20th century courtrooms that you just push a button and a transcript comes out, you don't have that. I'll have to make a special request from my stenographer."

Evans added that she will provide transcripts to jurors if they insist after trying to recall the testimony, "but we couldn't get them until next Thursday."

Jurors also asked for a legal dictionary, because they were unsure about the definitions of the words "vitriolic" and "exculpatory."

During the trial's first day, witness William McQueen, who attended church with the Bashara family, testified that Robert Bashara had a "vitriolic" exchange with Jane. Evans asked him to use another word; McQueen replaced it with "acerbic."

Evans explained: "Vitriolic is harsh and angry words," and, "Exculpatory ... (is) to prove that someone is not guilty of doing something wrong."

She also gave the definition of "obfuscate," which means to make something unclear.

The jurors' third request: dry erase markers, which the judge provided.

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