Robert Bashara, 55, said he was "truly and humbly sorry" for trying to have Joseph Gentz killed in jail.
"What I did was inexcusable, and I have no one to blame but myself," he said while repeatedly pausing to dab his eyes.
The body of his wife, marketing executive Jane Bashara, was found strangled in her Mercedes-Benz in a decrepit Detroit neighborhood last January, miles from their home in Grosse Pointe Park. The killing stoked fears of a random abduction, but the investigation soon focused on people close to the family.
Gentz, who was Robert Bashara's handyman, was charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy. No co-conspirator has been named.
Bashara insists he had no role in her death, but police have called him a person of interest.
Assistant prosecutor Robert Moran added to the intrigue Monday when he told the judge that Bashara tried to have Gentz killed to protect himself.
"Is this a man who hires someone out of vengeance or revenge because he's angry because someone confessed to taking his wife's life? No," Moran said.
Bashara in October pleaded guilty to soliciting Gentz's murder after he was secretly recorded discussing the scheme.