DETROIT — Bob Bashara repeatedly dished out blame for his plight when he took the stand Thursday in his attempt to get a new trial.
The convicted murderer, serving life in prison for his wife’s death, took issue with a host of people, including several of his former attorneys, police, prosecutors, witnesses and reporters, calling the news media a “brood of vipers.”
“This media did everything in their power, as fed by the prosecution and law enforcement, to disparage and to corrupt my case prior to me even coming to trial,” he testified in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Bashara, a former Grosse Pointe Park businessman, wore green jail garb and frequently talked with his hands as he answered questions for hours, first from his appellate attorney, Ronald Ambrose, then from the prosecution during the hearing at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit.
It’s the first time he has testified on his own behalf.
Bashara, 57, contends he wanted to take the stand during his lengthy trial last year, but his trial attorneys — Lillian Diallo and Michael McCarthy — advised against that, saying if he did, he would be convicted. He said he was told to trust their experience.
Ronald Ambrose and his client Bob Bashara look over notes as Bashara takes the stand in the courtroom of Judge Vonda Evans at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice Thursday Oct. 15, 2015 for his hearing on a motion to seek a new trial. (Photo: Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press)
“I felt that I was grossly misled by that,” Bashara said.
Bashara was convicted of five counts, including first-degree murder, in the 2012 killing of his wife, Jane Bashara. She was strangled, and her body was discovered in her SUV on Detroit's east side.
Bashara now wants new trial, claiming he was denied at fair one the first time around.
Testimony Thursday was wide-ranging and covered Bashara’s extramarital relationships with other women, his involvement in the BDSM — bondage, discipline and sadomasochism — lifestyle, his use of cocaine and lies he told.
Bashara admitted he lied to his former mistress, Rachel Gillett, telling her he wasn’t married.
“Those lies were put in place to protect my family,” he said, adding it allowed him to keep his BDSM lifestyle “private and separate.”
Bashara, officials have said, conspired with his former handyman, Joseph Gentz, who told authorities he killed Jane Bashara at her husband’s direction. Gentz accepted a plea deal and is serving 17-28 years in prison for second-degree murder. As part of the deal, Gentz agreed to testify, but later refused.
The truth, Bob Bashara contends, is that he had nothing to do with his wife’s death.
Bashara told the court that his physical relationship with his wife dwindled as they got older, but the “love and the caring never stopped.”
Bashara, who suffered from erectile dysfunction, said his wife gave him permission to go outside their marriage and that he did not discuss the BDSM lifestyle with her.
“You do what you need to do to take care of yourself,” he said his wife told him. “Just don’t embarrass me or the family.”
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey cross examines Bob Bashara as he takes the stand in the courtroom of Judge Vonda Evans at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice Thursday Oct. 15, 2015 for his hearing on a motion to seek a new trial. (Photo: Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press)
During cross-examination, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey questioned Bashara’s decision to bring other women into his marital bed while his wife was not home.
Bashara acknowledged he did so because “it was easy and convenient.”
Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans asked Bashara why he didn't take those women to the dungeon he kept nearby.
Bashara casually and calmly explained that the bed there wasn't big enough for everybody, and there was no shower for the women to use.
Bashara testified that he wanted a change of venue because he didn’t think he could get a fair trial in southeast Michigan.
Bob Bashara reads a transcript handed to him by Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey as he takes the stand on Thurs., Oct. 15, 2015. (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)
Bashara also said witnesses he wanted to testify never took the stand.
“I want the truth to come out,” Bashara said. “Good, bad or indifferent.”
Diallo and McCarthy maintain they provided Bashara with a great defense and sound advice.
As he testified, Jane Bashara’s mother, Lorraine Engelbrecht, watched in the packed courtroom.
After the hearing, she said the case has been going on too long.
“Hopefully after this, he will go away,” she said.
Bob Bashara is serving his life sentence at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee. He returned to Detroit for his evidentiary hearing, which started last month when his trial lawyers testified. The hearing resumes at 1 p.m. Friday, which will mark the fifth day of testimony.
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