DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge said Tuesday that she will consider whether a suburban Detroit man charged in the strangulation of his wife should be allowed to use a laptop computer in jail to review legal documents.
Robert Bashara, 55, appeared Tuesday in Wayne County Circuit Court, where he’s charged with first-degree murder in the death of 56-year-old Jane Bashara, who beaten and strangled at the couple’s Grosse Pointe Park home in January 2012. Her body was found in her Mercedes-Benz, which was abandoned in Detroit.
“I have very distorted vision, and being able to enlarge on a computer would be most helpful,” Bashara told Judge Vonda Evans.
Bashara spoke to Evans about his diabetes, and said he suffers from macular degeneration.
Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey, who’s worried about Internet access, said she opposes the request.
Instead, Lindsey said, Bashara should be able to review documents on his lawyer’s computer during the lawyer’s visits to the jail.
“He would be having a privilege far and above any other inmate in the county jail,” Lindsey said. “The attorneys all the time get an order from the court to allow them to take their laptops into the jail to review the discovery with the defendant.”
Defense lawyer Mark Procida said the case is special because of the volume of evidence.
“There are thousands of pages of discovery,” he said, “and it would be a lot easier for everybody if he had access on a laptop.”
“There’s more discovery in this case than I’ve had in any other case,” Procida said. “If we were to spend the time it would take to go over every bit of discovery with him on our laptops, we would be there for years.”
Evans said she doesn’t want to give the appearance of giving Bashara any special privileges, but added: “The reality is that this is not the typical run-of-the-mill case.”
Evans said she would consult with jail officials and reconsider the issue at a Jan. 9 hearing.
Prosecutors claim Bashara had his wife killed so he could live a new life with another woman.
Handyman Joe Gentz, who is in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in Jane Bashara’s death, has said Robert Bashara threatened to kill him unless he followed orders and killed her.
Robert Bashara in media interviews repeatedly has denied any role. His trial is scheduled to begin March 3.
Bashara pleaded guilty last year to trying to have Gentz killed in jail.
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