Gentz sentenced to at least 17 years in Bashara's murder

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- A handyman who said he strangled a suburban Detroit marketing executive at the behest of her husband was sentenced Tuesday to at least 17 years in prison under a deal that calls for cooperation if more people are charged.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans reluctantly agreed to a 17-to-28-year sentence for Joseph Gentz, saying it "does not comport to the damage you've done."

Gentz, 49, pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder. He said he killed 56-year-old Jane Bashara at her Grosse Pointe Park home because her husband, Robert Bashara, offered money and had threatened to kill him if he didn't act.

Jane Bashara's body was found in her Mercedes-Benz in a run-down Detroit neighborhood in January 2012. Her death led to immediate speculation that she was plucked from a comfortable suburb that borders the city. But authorities soon said it wasn't a random homicide.

Robert Bashara, 55, has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged in his wife's death, but he's in prison after pleading guilty to trying to have Gentz killed in jail.

Gentz apologized in court and asked for forgiveness before the judge reprimanded him. She said Gentz could have backed out of the plot but chose to follow his "master," a reference to Robert Bashara.

"As she pleaded and begged and struggled for her life, did you ever think it was wrong? ... He used you to achieve his goal: freedom from his marriage," Evans said.

Asked whether Bashara will be charged, prosecutor's office spokeswoman Maria Miller said the case remains under investigation.

Gentz' attorney, Susan Reed, told reporters that her client will do "whatever's necessary" to help prosecutors.

"He wants to see the whole truth come out," Reed said.

Jane Bashara's family had a similar message. Her sister, Julie Rowe, told the judge that Gentz didn't act alone.

"Our healing will begin when all truth is known and all are held accountable," Rowe said.

Published: Thu, Feb 21, 2013