Judge denies laptop for Robert Bashara in jail

Judge denies laptop for Robert Bashara in jail, considers removing defense team

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DETROIT (WJBK) -- A judge, during the court hearing in which she denied a request that would have let Robert Bashara use a laptop in jail, made clear Bashara's lawyer infighting may hurt his defense.  

Bashara is charged in the death of his wife Jane Bashara of Grosse Pointe Park. She was strangled two years ago, and her body was left in her Mercedes-Benz in Detroit.

At issue Thursday was Bashara's defense team from the public defender's office, made up of Rene Cooper, Mark Procida and Nancy Shell. Cooper is off the case now after internal disagreements among the attorneys, and Judge Vonda Evans is not happy about that.

"This is Mr. Bashara's life. And he needs someone to be able to represent him that is going to be able to give the time and dedication, and right now I don't know if the defender's office is in the position to do that," Evans said.  

Evans is also concerned about delays in getting court transcripts to Bashara for his review.

"That's unacceptable. Either you're going to do this case efficiently or you're not going to do it," she said.

Now prosecutors fear this already lengthy case could be delayed indefinitely.

The head of the state defender office, Chief Counsel Don Johnson, tells Fox 2's Amy Lange, "I've given Mr. Bashara two of my best lawyers. Our resources are limited and I'm confident they have the ability to give him a great defense."

But Evans told Bashara to get her a list of potential attorneys. Bashara says he's already spoken to another lawyer about representing him.  

"Whatever it is, we're going to provide to him. And if that means, unfortunately, we have to move this case, then we're going to do that," Evans said.  

Evans also denied the request for Bashara's laptop usage in jail. Bashara, citing poor vision, had said a computer would make it easier to read documents and prepare for trial.

He's accused of coercing a handyman to kill Jane Bashara so he could live a new life with another woman who referred to him as "Master Bob." Bashara regularly met women in a sex dungeon in the basement of a bar.

He denies any role in his wife's death.

All parties are due back in court January 23.

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