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May 1, 2013

Bashara arraigned on charges in wife’s murder

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

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Robert Bashara appears in 36th District Court May 1 for arraignment on a number of charges, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Murder suspect Robert Bashara is facing a list of serious charges in connection with the strangulation of his wife, Jane Bashara, on Jan. 24, 2012. But what wasn’t clear at press time was who would be representing Bashara in court as prosecutors pursue those charges against him.

In front of 36th District Court Magistrate Laura Echartea shortly after 1 p.m. May 1, Bashara was arraigned on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit murder, suborning of perjury during a capital trial, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. The first charge carries a sentence of mandatory life in prison without parole, while the next three charges carry a possible sentence of life or any number of years in prison.

Witness intimidation carries a possible 15-year sentence, and obstruction of justice carries a five-year sentence. Echartea set 1:30 p.m. May 7 in 36th District Court as the date and time for Bashara’s preliminary exam.

Bashara — who was brought into the courtroom in a prison uniform — asked for additional time before the next hearing, saying that he didn’t have an attorney yet.

“I’m trying to raise funds for an attorney,” Bashara told the magistrate.

However, Echartea declined to reschedule the hearing, noting that if Bashara is unable to come up with the funds to pay for a private attorney, “at some point, you will have a court-appointed attorney.”

Bashara’s most recent attorney, Mark Kriger, came to court briefly to speak with his former client. Kriger confirmed to reporters that he’s no longer representing Bashara.

“He’s asking for assigned counsel,” Kriger said of Bashara.

Kriger left the court before proceedings began.

After parting ways with his first attorney, David Griem, last year, Bashara hired Kriger, who represented the Grosse Pointe Park businessman and landlord in a case in which Bashara was accused of trying to hire someone to kill Joseph Gentz, a former Bashara handyman, while Gentz was in jail. Gentz told police he killed Jane Bashara after Robert Bashara offered to pay him and threatened to kill him if he didn’t go forward with the murder, which Bashara denied. In past interviews, Bashara has always maintained that he had nothing to do with his wife’s death.

On Oct. 11, Bashara pleaded guilty in 3rd Circuit Court to a solicitation of murder charge in the Gentz case. On Dec. 10, he was sentenced to six to 20 years behind bars for that crime. For his role in the Jane Bashara slaying, Gentz pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder, and he was sentenced in February to 17-28 years in prison.

Bashara was already in prison in the Gentz case, and he’ll remain behind bars as he faces these additional charges.

“Given the nature of the charges against you, there’s not going to be any bond,” Echartea told Bashara.

Because of some confusion between the court and the Prosecutor’s Office about the time of the arraignment, attorneys from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office were not on hand for the arraignment.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.