DA's Office asks for more time to hand over e-mails in Stern case

DA's Office asks for more time to hand over e-mails in Stern case

Credit: KHOU 11 News

Yvonne Stern leaves the courtroom on Friday, July 27, 2012.

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by Courtney Zubowski / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 5:17 PM

HOUSTON—The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has asked for more time to hand over e-mails to attorneys for a Bellaire socialite at the center of a murder-for-hire plot—and a judge has granted it.

Yvonne Stern is suing her husband’s former mistress, Michelle Gaiser, in civil court.

Gaiser pleaded guilty to solicitation of capital murder charges in a plot on Stern’s life Friday and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Stern’s attorneys believe there was inappropriate e-mail communication between the DA’s office and Gaiser’s attorneys, so Judge Robert Schaffer ordered the DA’s office to hand over the e-mails.

On Friday, prosecutors told KHOU 11 News they would do so by Monday’s deadline, but instead changed their minds and asked the judge for a two-day extension.

The assistant general counsel for the DA’s office, Scott Durfee, said he may go to the court of appeals to prevent the release of the e-mails.

Up until last week, Yvonne Stern’s husband, Jeffrey Stern, was also charged with solicitation of capital murder in the case.

Prosecutors alleged that he and Gaiser plotted to have the socialite killed – a claim the DA’s office on Tuesday said they did not have enough evidence to pursue in court.

Now, Yvonne Stern and her lawyers believe the District Attorney’s Office and attorneys for Michelle Gaiser worked together, tried to shape testimony, and shared strategy to try and get a conviction against Jeffrey Stern.

"I think it’s safe to say when we get our hands on those e-mails, there will be an eye-opening discussion between the prosecutor and the lawyer for the criminally accused hit lady," said Yvonne Stern’s attorney, Chip Lewis. "The judge, Robert Schaffer, he is the gatekeeper of the evidence. He has heard all of the arguments. He has seen all their resistance. He’s looked at the e-mails and said they’re relevant, there’s a reason to turn them over."

Defense attorney James Stafford, who represents Michelle Gaiser, said all you will find in the e-mail is mainly communication about scheduling.

"You are going to have to have several cups of coffee to keep yourself awake when you start reading these because they are about as boring as boring," Stafford said.

"The records are not going to reflect any kind of misconduct or inappropriate behavior on the part of the District Attorney’s Office or counsel for Michelle Gaiser," Durfee told KHOU 11 News on Friday.

As to why attorneys didn’t hand over the e-mails when first asked by Stern’s attorneys, Stafford said he didn’t want to set a precedent for future cases.

"As you look at me in the face would you want to turn over all of your e-mails just because they want you to? No," said Stafford.

 

 

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