By Ron Dewey

DETROIT (WWJ) – Handyman Joseph Gentz has been sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in prison in the murder of a Grosse Pointe Park marketing executive and mother of two.

Gentz pleaded guilty to second degree murder — telling the court he strangled Jane Bashara at the behest of her husband, Bob Bashara, who paid him $2,000 for the task.

In a plea deal, Gentz offered his testimony in any upcoming trial related to this case. Gentz was also charged with conspiracy but that charge was dropped as part of the deal. Gentz’s attorney said Tuesday his client wants the truth to come out and would be willing to testify if Bob Bashara were to be charged in this case.

Gentz was remorseful as he spoke to the court.”I am very, very sorry for what happened. I’m asking for the family’s forgiveness for what I have done  … my family, for forgiveness,” he said.

Jane Bashara's sister, Julie Englebrecht-Rowe. (credit: Ron Dewey, WWJ).

Jane Bashara’s sister, Julie Englebrecht-Rowe. (credit: Ron Dewey, WWJ).

But Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans was in no forgiving mood.

“As she fought for her life, did you ever think to spare her from death? No. The destruction of power and control consumed you as it does most cowardly individuals,” Evans said, adding that the agreed upon sentence does not comport to the crime.

If Gentz had been convicted of first degree murder as charged he would have spent life in prison.  He now faces a maximum of 28 years, with credit for time served.

Bob Bashara, has been called a suspect in her slaying, but has not been charged in her death. He was sentenced in  a separate case to 80 months to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to hiring a hit man to kill Gentz in jail.

Speaking prior to the sentencing, Jane Bashara’s sister, Julie Englebrecht-Rowe, said her family has been devastated by the murder of their loved one.

“Our family feels very strongly that this is not over with the sentencing of Mr. Gentz,” Englebrecht-Rowe told the court. “Mr. Gentz has no motive to murder our sister, Jane, and we believe his statement that he was coerced into murdering her. Our healing will begin when the whole truth is known and all who were involved are held accountable.”

The body of Jane Bashara, 56, was found in her Mercedes-Benz SUV parked in an alley at a Detroit alley on Jan. 25.

Bob Bashara, who reported her missing the night before, continues to deny he played any role in her death. He’s currently imprisoned.

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