Charges dropped against Jeffrey Stern in murder-for-hire case
Updated On: Jul 24 2012 06:39:50 PM CDT
Charges were dropped Tuesday against a Houston lawyer who was accused in a murder-for-hire plot involving his former lover and wife.
Michelle Gaiser admitted to hiring hit-men to kill Yvonne Stern, the wife of Jeffery Stern. Gaiser and Jeffrey Stern had an affair.
Three attempts were made on Yvonne Stern's life. She was shot in the abdomen during one of those attempts in May 2010.
Gaiser accepted a plea deal for her solicitation of capital murder charge. Part of that plea included testifying against Jeffrey Stern, who was also accused of solicitation of capital murder. The charge against Stern was dropped Tuesday, prosecutors said. He was scheduled to go to trial on Friday.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office issued the following statement.
"The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has a duty to not simply prosecute, but to seek justice. This has been a case in which the evidence has continuously evolved. We have remained true to our mission by examining information objectively, weighing our decisions carefully, and acting prudently. Ultimately we have come to the conclusion that, at this point, the available evidence is not sufficient to justify taking this case to trial," First Assistant District Attorney Jim Leitner said.
Jeffrey Stern denied any involvement in the plot. Yvonne Stern is standing by him.
"Jeff Stern, his wife Yvonne and their children are relieved and grateful that their two year nightmare is over. Upon a final review of their case, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office realized there was not credible evidence to proceed and has dismissed all charges against Jeff Stern. The Stern Family appreciates the outpouring of public support and requests that their privacy be respected during this time of healing," Paul Nugent, Jeff Stern's defense attorney, said in a statement.
Last month, Nugent said Gaiser did want to testify. Nugent said Gaiser wrote a note to another jail inmate, offering $20,000 for the death of Jeffrey Stern.
Nugent read part of alleged note at a news conference on the couple's front lawn.
"It needs to look like he got robbed. If you plan on making him disappear, he cannot be found because they'll think it's a hit," Nugent said the note read. "Whatever you do, it must not look like a hit. It's going to be accidental death. Obviously, even a close-range shot didn't get rid of the wife."
Nugent said Gaiser gave the note to a female inmate awaiting trial on a bank robbery charge. Nugent said that inmate gave him the note on May 9 and he gave it to the FBI, which confirmed that Gaiser wrote it.
Nugent said he decided to go public with the note because, he said, the prosecutor in Jeffrey Stern's case refused to file charges against Gaiser.
"It was a case that was going to have to be based on believing that particular witness, and that evidence made her less believable," Leitner said.
"They acknowledged they didn't have enough evidence," Nugent said. "They did the right thing."
"We ask the media and general public to keep in mind that defense attorneys are paid to advance the legal interests of their clients. Statements about the existence of an FBI investigation or the deliberations and actions of this office are unsubstantiated assertions, not verified facts," a statement from the Harris County District Attorney's Office read..
The Sterns said they are afraid of Gaiser, even with her being in jail.