DETROIT (WWJ) - Bob Bashara has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill handyman Joseph Gentz, who has claimed Bashara paid him to kill his wife.
Gentz is facing murder and conspiracy charges in the murder of Jane Bashara, whose body was found in her Mercedes-Benz SUV in Detroit in January.
At a preliminary exam Tuesday in 36th District Court, Steve Tibaudo, who owns a furniture and appliance store owner, testified he talked to Bashara on more than one occasion about helping him to hire a hitman.
Tibaudo, who wore a wire for the FBI, testified, “He (Bashara) said, ‘Can you arrange to have somebody take care of him?’ He wanted (Gentz) killed. I told him, ‘Anyone could be hit anywhere they are at,’” Tibaudo said.
“I was trying to, you know, convince him that, you know, that anything’s possible, as far as taking somebody out of the equation … so they can’t testify against him,” Tibaudo said.
Tibaudo testified that Bashara gave him $2,000 cash for a “down payment” on the hit, and he agreed to make some inquiries.
Tibaudo said Bashara hugged him and patted him down, asking if he was wearing a wire. “I said, ‘It’s against my religion to wear a wire,’” the witness said.
The recording was played in court.
Tibaudo also testified that he became afraid of Bashara following past conversations in which Bashara talked about “taking care” of a woman who was staying at one of his rental properties. The witness said Bashara told him he wanted the female tenant “T-boned or run over by a car” because she was “making his life hell.”
In cross-examination, Bashara’s attorney, David Griem, tried to poke holes in Tibaudo’s testimony, saying it’s clear the two aren’t friends.
Griem read a statement Tibaudo gave to prosecutors in which Tibaudo called Bashara crazy, adding, “He screws everyone out of their money.”
Chief Judge Kenneth King ruled that there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.
Earlier Tuesday, Griem, argued that his client should not be appearing in court in “jail garb.”
“And I look to the potential jurors in Wayne County, and that perception is not a good one, and … with all of the police leaks to the media during the history of this case, I think it’s going to be very difficult for Mr. Bashara to get a fair trial as it is,” Griem said.
The judge agreed to allow Bashara to appear in street clothes at future court appearances.
At the start of Tuesday’s hearing the judge denied a request by Griem for an adjournment in the case, so a new attorney can prepare to take over
Bashara hired attorney Mark Kriger after Griem filed an emergency motion to be removed from defending Bashara, citing a “breakdown” with his client. The judge denied Griem’s request, however, saying a change in representation would unnecessarily delay the case.
Police have called Bashara a “suspect” in his wife’s killing, but he has not been charged.
He will be arraigned on solicitation of murder charges in Wayne County Circuit Court on July 31.