Bashara to ask judge to order retrial on murder charge

George Hunter
The Detroit News

As far as Bob Bashara is concerned, he’d be a free man if only his attorneys had told jurors during his murder trial what a great guy he is.

Instead, the 57-year-old former Grosse Pointe Park businessman is serving a life sentence in the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee after his first-degree murder conviction in December.

He is expected Tuesday to seek a new trial at a hearing before Wayne Circuit Judge Vonda Evans, who presided over his first trial. Bashara may take the witness stand and testify in his own behalf, according to his former attorney, Lillian Diallo, which he didn’t do in his first trial.

After his conviction in December, Bashara vowed to appeal his case “until my hands are raw, blood comes from my eyes and I take my last breath.” He filed his appeal in March.

Bashara’s appellate attorney, Ronald Ambrose, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

After a nine-week trial that featured salacious testimony, 74 witnesses and 460 exhibits, Bashara was found guilty of orchestrating the Jan. 24, 2012, killing of his wife, Jane. 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 17-28 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Bashara killed his wife so he could immerse himself in a bondage, discipline and sadomasochism lifestyle with his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett. But, according to a motion he filed with Wayne Circuit Court and statements he made at his sentencing hearing, Bashara feels jurors found him guilty because his attorneys, Diallo and Michael McCarthy, didn’t do enough to extol his virtues.

“The jury poisoning and media corruption of this trial ... blackened my eye and made me a monster,” Bashara said, reading from a prepared statement at his Jan. 15 sentencing. “In the final analysis, my character, or the deliberate destruction of it ... would have shown me innocent. But the jury’s contempt of who the prosecution painted me to be overshadowed all else.”

Diallo said recently she and McCarthy did their best to defend their client.

“We did everything we could,” she said. “That trial, and all that went into preparing for it, was my whole life for several months.”

Diallo said she can’t discuss much about the case, but added Bashara may waive attorney-client privilege. “If he does that, all bets are off,” she said.

Bashara may want to testify on his own behalf, Diallo said.

Before his conviction, Bashara worked hard to cultivate his image as a family man and philanthropist. The man who fancied himself “the Mayor of Middlesex (Street)” and tooled around the Pointes in a Lincoln Navigator sporting a vanity plate with “BIG BOBB” was president of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club, and was often seen with his wife, a former marketing executive for DTE Energy, at charity fundraisers.

Meanwhile, testimony showed he had a steady girlfriend, sought relationships with other women, ran a sex dungeon beneath a bar he owned, snorted cocaine and once told his daughter it was her mom’s fault he surfed the Internet for pornography, after she caught him perusing the kinky website alt.com.

The nine men and three women on the jury took less than three full days to reach their guilty verdict. Afterward, two jurors met with the media and said they weren’t swayed by Bashara’s philanthropic work or his kinky lifestyle.

“The testimony was what it was,” Diallo said. “We didn’t make the jury’s decision. It came across loud and clear: The jury didn’t care about the Rotary Club.”

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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