Bashara attorney refused to be his 'slave'

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Bob Bashara's former attorney said Wednesday she stormed out of a meeting with him during his murder trial because he tried to browbeat her into making bad legal decisions.

"Mr. Bashara ... thinks he's the smartest man in the room and in the planet," attorney Lillian Diallo said during a hearing to determine whether Bashara will get a new trial, after he was convicted last year of orchestrating the killing of his wife, Jane.

"I am a lawyer," Diallo continued. "I didn't get into this standing on a street corner ... so with all respect to Mr. Bashara, he cannot tell me or dictate to me which way he thinks something legally should go.

"Something I do not believe in was slavery…I was not going to be made a slave to Robert Bashara."

Bashara filed a motion in Wayne Circuit Court seeking a new trial. He claims his attorneys, Diallo and Michael McCarthy, were ineffective because they failed to call key witnesses and made other mistakes that include neglecting to ask for a change of venue in the high-profile case.

Both attorneys refute the accusation, and say they did their best. Diallo on Wednesday said Bashara wanted her to focus on things during the trial which she said was bad strategy.

"His version of the facts did not match the facts of the case," Diallo said of her former client. "And some of the things (he had insisted in introducing to the jurors) came back to bite him in the behind."

A recurring theme during Bashara's nine-week trial was his involvement in the bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM) lifestyle. Prosecutors said he wanted his wife dead so he and his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett, could immerse themselves in the world of dungeons, leathers whips and chains.

When Bashara's appellate attorney Robert Ambrose asked Diallo Wednesday if she researched the BDSM lifestyle while preparing for the case, she said, "Absolutely not. Because that was not the cause of death of Jane Bashara.

"Jane Bashara was brutally strangled," Diallo said. "I was not going to waste precious time trying to find out who liked to spank who...and what they liked to wear while doing it.”

The hearing entered its second day Wednesday, with Diallo wrapping up her testimony after about 20 minutes, with defense investigator Joseph Bruce scheduled to take the stand later Wednesday.

Bashara is serving a life sentence in the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee after his first-degree murder 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.

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.

Among Bashara's complaints about his attorneys was that they didn’t reveal to jurors that he and his wife each had difficulty having sex because of physical problems: Erectile dysfunction for Bob Bashara and a medical condition that made sex painful for Jane.

After Diallo testified Wednesday, defense investigator Joseph Bruce finished his testimony, which he'd started Tuesday.The former Detroit Police homicide investigator said he was supposed to be paid $75 per hour for his work, but that he didn't get the full amount, which he said hindered him.

"“As far as me going on my own and developing a case that I thought was important…I couldn’t do," Bruce said.

Bruce said he spoke with Gentz's neighbor, who told him the hulking handyman choked his 10-year-old son for "riding on his lawn." But Bruce said the man didn't testify because he was out of town on business.

The hearing will resume Oct. 14. Ambrose has until Oct. 2 to find six witnesses he says weren't called during the trial, and submit their names to the judge.

After testimony wrapped up Wednesday, Bashara asked the judge if he could stay in the Wayne County Jail until the next hearing, rather than going back to Oaks, so he could talk to Ambrose and other investigators. Evans granted the request.

Bob Bashara sits in a Wayne County Circuit courtroom Wednesday, seeking a retrial of his murder case.
Attorney Lillian Diallo testifies at a hearing Wednesday about her work in defending Bob Bashara.