GROSSE POINTE (WWJ) - The former handyman of a Grosse Pointe Park woman has been found competent to stand trial for her brutal murder.
A court-sanction independent evaluation found Joe Gentz – who reportedly told police he was hired by Bob Bashara to kill his wife, Jane – mentally competent to stand trial. That supports earlier findings by doctors doing forensics work in the case.
“Competence to stand trial means you understand the proceedings against you and that you can help assist your attorney. It’s not that you’re a Rhodes scholar, it’s just that you understand where you are,” said WWJ legal analyst and Talk Radio 1270 morning show host Charlie Langton.
Langton said the findings allow Gentz’s lawyers to speak with prosecutors about making a possible deal.
“Joe Gentz could be looking at a possible plea bargain, but what’s really going on here is that the prosecutors want to make sure that Joe Gentz is competent to testify because they, the prosecutors, need a good witness, a legitimate witness, to testify that it was in fact Bob Bashara who ordered this killing,” said Langton.
Gentz, who reportedly has an IQ below 70, was charged in March with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the strangulation death of Jane Bashara.
The body of the 56-year-old marketing executive and mother of two was found in her Mercedes-Benz SUV parked in an alley at Pinewood and Annott in Detroit on Jan. 25. Her husband reported her missing the night before. An autopsy showed that she had extensive bruising to her upper body, a crushed windpipe and missing fingernails.
Bob Bashara isn’t charged with his wife’s murder, but he is charged with trying to hire a hitman to kill Gentz in jail. He remains jailed on a $15 million bond.
“The idea here is that normally people want to hire hitmen to kill important people and the allegation is that now, Bashara hired a hitman to kill Gentz. Why would Bob Bashara want to hire someone who means nothing? In reality now, Joe Gentz is a very key witness, and that’s what that hitman charge is all about,” said Langton.
Bob Bashara, who was named a person of interest early on in the investigation, has maintained his innocence and denied any involvement in his wife’s death.
What, if anything, could the latest developments mean for Bob Bashara? Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950, his attorney David Griem described it as a three-month charade.
“There have been negotiations going on between Joe Gentz’s attorney and the prosecution for that entire period of time. I don’t think there has ever been a case, that I’m aware of, where the prosecution has stipulated to a second forensic examination done by an independent psychiatrist,” said Griem.
Griem said he now expects for Bob Bashara to be charged with his wife’s murder.
“I’ve been expecting that for some time. Again, I think the competency examination was just a charade to buy time. As far as timing goes, I’ve got no control over that. But we know it’s coming, it’s just a question of when,” said Griem.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for the latest.