Bashara moving forward on appeal in murder case

George Hunter
The Detroit News
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After Robert Bashara was convicted in December of having his wife Jane killed, he vowed to appeal his case “until my hands are raw, blood comes from eyes and I take my last breath.”

The first step in that effort is underway, with Bashara’s case moving forward in the Michigan Court of Appeals.

“We’re at the initial stages of this appeal,” said Livonia-based attorney Ronald Ambrose, who was appointed to represent Bashara in the appellate case, which was filed March 9. “The court transcripts are going to be prepared in the next 90 days, and once I get those I’ll be in a better position to move forward.”

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday it “will be filing a responsive brief at the appropriate time.”

Bashara, a former Grosse Pointe Park businessman, was convicted in Wayne County Circuit Court of first-degree murder and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for orchestrating the Jan. 24, 2012, killing of his wife. He paid his handyman, Joseph Gentz, to strangle her in the garage of their home, dump her body in her SUV and leave it in an east side Detroit alley. Gentz pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving 17 to 28 years in prison.

During Bashara’s Jan. 15 sentencing hearing before Judge Vonda Evans, he asked for a mistrial, complaining prosecutors and the media had compromised his right to a fair trial.

“The jury poisoning and media corruption of this trial ... blackened my eye and made me a monster," Bashara said, reading from a prepared statement.

Bashara also said his attorneys, Lillian Diallo and Michael McCarthy, were ineffective, in part because they didn’t spend enough time trying to convince the jurors he was a good person who raised money for charity.

“In the final analysis, my character, or the deliberate destruction of it ... would have shown me innocent,” Bashara said. “But the jury's contempt of who the prosecution painted me to be overshadowed all else.”

The former Grosse Pointe Rotary Club president, known around the Pointes as “Big Bob” and the “Mayor of Middlesex (Street)” also said the trial was unfair because Gentz did not appear in court.

“He is the only one who has accused me in my Jane's death,” Bashara said. “Allowing his words without having the opportunity to cross-examine him, and have him face me, is unfair and prejudicial.”

Ambrose said Thursday he would explore all those options on appeal.

“We’ll look into every avenue,” he said. “But it’s still too early in the process to say which direction we’ll take.”

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