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September 20, 2013

Bashara murder trial to start in March

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

The trial for Grosse Pointe Park businessman Robert “Bob” Bashara — who’s accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife, Jane Bashara, on Jan. 24, 2012 — won’t get underway until next year.

During an arraignment on information Sept. 20 in front of 3rd Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans, the judge and attorneys for the prosecution and defense established dates for upcoming court appearances in what’s expected to be a lengthy trail. Evans entered a plea of “not guilty” on Bashara’s behalf.

At press time, a final conference date was set for Dec. 11, and Evans said both sets of attorneys would need to file any motions in the case no later than Dec. 6.

Renee Cooper, one of the attorneys representing Bashara, and Lisa Lindsey, one of the Wayne County prosecutors handling the case, both said they believed they’d be filing a number of motions. Evans said those motions will determine what is and isn’t admitted into the trial.

The Dec. 11 date was reached after Cooper said the initial suggested date of Nov. 8 wouldn’t give the defense attorneys adequate time to prepare.

“We really need the transcript (from the preliminary exam)” first, Cooper said.

Evans said she expected that document would be ready soon, but acknowledged that the weeklong hearing would be producing a lot of material for the attorneys to review.

“I know it’s going to be a voluminous transcript,” Evans said.

A jury trial was slated, at press time, to start March 3, 2014. Evans said jury selection would likely take at least the first couple of days.

With dozens of witnesses and thousands of pages of documents, the trial is expected to be far longer than the recent preliminary examination, which included testimony from 30 witnesses.

“We anticipate that it’s going to be a lengthy trial,” Lindsey said.

To enable Bashara to meet with his attorneys regularly to prepare for the trial, Evans offered to allow the defendant to stay in the Wayne County Jail, rather than be returned to the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, where Bashara currently is serving six to 20 years after pleading guilty last November to solicitation of murder for attempting to hire someone to kill Joseph Gentz, the handyman Bashara allegedly hired to kill his wife. When asked if he’d prefer to have Bashara kept in custody locally, Cooper immediately responded, “Absolutely, judge — please.”

With regard to his wife’s slaying, Bashara has been charged with 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. Following a revelation during the preliminary examination that Bashara also allegedly used his mother’s bank safe deposit box to conceal a .32-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, he’s now also facing a felony firearm charge.

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