DETROIT (WWJ) – St. Clair Shores handyman Joseph Gentz has pleaded not guilty and will stand trial in early January for the death of Jane Bashara. Gentz and his attorney appeared briefly in Wayne County Circuit Court Tuesday morning for Gentz’s arraignment on murder and conspiracy charges.

Investigators accuse Gentz of killing Jane Bashara, a 56-year-old marketing executive, in January by strangling her. But police and prosecutors don’t think Gentz did it by himself. Gentz has said Jane Bashara’s husband, Bob, paid him to kill her. Bashara’s body was found inside her luxury SUV in an east side Detroit alley.

Following Gentz’s court appearance, his Attorney Susan Reed, said Bashara’s decision to plead guilty to trying to hire a hit man to kill Gentz supports her client’s story.

“From day one … my client has said that he was afraid Bashara was gonna have him killed,” said Reed. “And I sort of got the feeling that no one believed that — they sort of just said, oh, he’s exaggerating — but, obviously, he was telling the truth.”

A trial date has been set for January 7, 2013.

Bob Bashara, meanwhile, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20 after he pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hit man to kill Gentz.

Follow previous developments in this case here.


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