Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bob Bashara: “What’s BDSM got to do with it?”

Flyer for Bashara's first business enterprise 
The Bashara trial is about to end, with closing statements coming Wednesday, and now we’ll see how the state did. It’s been almost three years since Jane Bashara was murdered, her life snuffed out in her garage under a boot on the foot of Joe Gentz, a man who says he was paid by Bob Bashara to kill Jane. 
Gentz is doing 17-to-28 for second-degree murder in the case.
For Bashara, the state wants a first-degree conviction, saying that without his actions, Jane would be alive. He's also charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder, solicitation of murder, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.
It’s been a drawn out trial, with 74 witnesses and typically graphic exhibits – a classic murder trial spiced with the BDSM world that Bashara admits he was part of during his last years with Jane.
“They’re using the fact that I had this alternative lifestyle as motive for me wanting to harm my wife,” Bashara told me one day last year. We spoke many times on the phone after he was sent for prison for soliciting the murder of Gentz. A lot of those conversations will show up in the book I’m wrapping up, Murder in Grosse Pointe Park: Privilege, Adultery and the Killing of Jane Bashara, which comes out on Penguin/Berkley in the fall.   
The state claims that he wanted Jane out of the way so he could have a life with his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett, who shared an affinity for the lifestyle with Bob. Also, the state claims that money issues were pressuring Bashara and Jane had a fat IRA that he would be privy to if she were to die.
“My wife was not inhibiting me,” he told me. “If I didn’t want to have Jane, I would have simply divorced her. But I had plenty of income and money was never an issue. I was paying for two kids going to college, had cars and they got whatever they wanted.  If [daughter] Jessie wanted a $500 pair of boots, Jane got them for her.”
Investigators found statements that showed a wide gulf between the income of Bob and Jane. She made close to six figures some years as a marketing consultant and he made barely $20,000 a year as a landlord and sales rep for a chemical company.
It’s not my job, but the defense failed to note that a self-employed individual should show a low adjusted income; better for taxes. I don’t know if that was the case with Bashara, but I’m sure that fact went by the jury in a state where so many people are desperately clinging to whatever employer will have them.
The state did, however, do a good job of exposing Bashara as a bad guy in terms of character. He cheated on his wife, who was clearly intent on working things out in a troubled marriage. He was a slumlord, and a hot-headed bully by a number of accounts. There was an episode in which his daughter found an incriminating text to one of his mistresses – yes, he had more than one - on his phone and he grabbed the phone, erased it, and handed it back to her: “What text?” he said, or something similar. That stuck with me as particularly mean-spirited. Who does that?
He was also head of the local Rotary Club. Do they let any angry man run that group? The club has done its best to erase all mentions of its connection to Bashara. Was he a great guy who did you wrong? Or did he do such a good job of glad-handing and bringing in money that they put up with him? It was never quite squared in trial. 
There were some lighter moments in a dark setting. He used to go out to the golf course in ritzy Grosse Pointe and do blow and smoke weed with a buddy, and we're talking in recent yeas. That he knocked back lines and joints on the golf course of the local country club was amusing to me; I’m sure he wasn’t the only one doing such a thing.

I wrote about the case at the outset of the trial for the Daily Beast.  We’re done. The jurors will do its best to figure it out after taking nine weeks out of their lives to listen to a parade of characters, some pissed off, some amusing and a few sad depressing. 
Bashara came into the courtroom on Monday whistling, ebullient. He’s apparently confident that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he procured the murder. Hang on. It could get good.