The question before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans isn’t whether Grosse Pointe Park businessman Bob Bashara is complicit in the January 2011 murder of his wife, but who will represent him.
Bashara has already been convicted of hiring a hitman to kill Joe Gentz, the handyman convicted in his wife’s murder, and the prosecution argues that his motive was to silence Gentz, a potential witness against him in his wife’s death. Gentz, who was convicted earlier of second-degree murder in Jane Bashara’s death by strangulation, has admitted acting at her husband’s behest.
In Tuesday’s court proceedings in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit, Evans said she was prepared to appoint two lawyers, Lillian Diallo and David Cripps, to defend Bashara and set an Oct. 6 trial date, the Detroit Free Press reports.
She had been given the authority to replace his legal team from the public defender’s office with Cripps and his’ wife, Gabi Silver, and another unnamed attorney.
She cited the professional reputations of both Cripps and Diallo, telling Bashara that together, they would “be able to adequately represent you.”
However, after a session in chambers, Evans said she wasn’t going to appoint Cripps and would make a decision on April 4 on how to proceed.
In addition to the Oct. 6 trial date, Evans also set May 28 as the date for pretrial motions, which will be heard June 23.
Jury selection be conducted using questionnaires because of the publicity surrounding the case. Attorneys for both sides have until Aug. 1 to draft questions to determine juror impartiality and qualification. About 150 prospective jurors will be called to complete the questionnaires, and 16 will be seated.
The Basharas were well known in the community and involved in a variety of activities. The salacious details surrounding Jane Bashara's unexpected death were shocking to residents in the Pointes, and it drew national media attention for several months following the discovery of her body in Detroit.
The prosecution is alleging that Bashara was involved in an extramarital affair and practiced an alternative lifestyle in which he was the “master” and his former mistress was the “slave.”
The former mistress, Rachel Gillett, testified in a proceeding last fall that the two had met on an alternative lifestyle web site and that he wanted to bring a third, person, Janet Leehmann, into their relationship.Leehmann testified that Bashara had traveled to Oregon, where she lived around the time of Jane Bashara’s murder, and fored her into erotic asphyxiation