Gentz found competent to stand trial in Jane Bashara murder case

By: K. Michelle Moran | C&G Newspapers | Published July 11, 2012


Despite what medical professionals acknowledged were some intellectual limitations and occasional impulse control issues, Joseph Gentz, 48, of Grosse Pointe Park, has been found competent to stand trial.

During a hearing July 11, 36th District Court Chief Judge Kenneth King concurred with these findings and declared Gentz competent to stand trial on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the case of Grosse Pointe Park mother and marketing executive Jane Bashara, 56, who was killed at her home Jan. 24. Her body was discovered in her SUV the following morning in an alley in Detroit. Gentz has maintained that he killed Jane Bashara at the behest of her husband, Robert Bashara. Robert Bashara, who has been named a person of interest in his wife’s death, has been charged with hiring someone to kill Gentz in prison, a charge Bashara’s attorney refuted.

Susan Reed, Gentz’s court-appointed attorney, said Dr. Charles Clark, the Ann Arbor-based licensed and forensic psychologist retained for Gentz’s second competency evaluation, found that Gentz understood the charges against him and was “capable of making reasonable choices,” she told the court. He was not found to suffer from bipolar disorder, depression or psychosis, she said.

Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey said Clark’s findings are consistent with those of Dr. Margo Gilbert, the psychologist retained for the first competency evaluation.

After court, Reed said she would now begin negotiating a possible plea deal with the prosecutor. She denied previous reports that such negotiations had already started. Reed said Gentz has some intellectual limitations — his IQ has been shown to be in the range of 69 to the low 70s — but he understands the court process and can assist his attorney.

For his safety, she said Gentz has been kept in isolation at the William Dickerson facility in Hamtramck, and he has only been allowed to have visits from his attorney. Reed said Gentz had told people from the beginning he feared Robert Bashara would try to have him killed, so he “wasn’t surprised” when he heard about the alleged plot against him. She said Gentz “is relieved” Robert Bashara is now also behind bars.

At press time, a pretrial hearing for Gentz was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 13 before Judge Kenneth King. Reed acknowledged that it’s possible this might be waived if she and prosecutors could reach a plea bargain in the case before that date. She wasn’t sure how long these talks might take, but she was hopeful they might have an agreement soon. As to the terms of such an agreement, “I won’t speculate on the numbers,” said Reed, saying she only hoped to get “the best deal possible” for her client.

Robert Bashara, 54, of Grosse Pointe Park, was arraigned on the felony charge of solicitation of murder before 36th District Court Magistrate Charles Anderson on June 27. At press time, Bashara’s attorney, David Griem, said Bashara remained behind bars at the new Wayne County Jail in Detroit on a $15 million cash or surety bond.