Bellaire socialite murder-for-hire trial postponed to investigate mistress

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 6:21 PM

HOUSTON -- A judge on Tuesday postponed the trial of Jeffrey Stern, a Bellaire lawyer accused of solicitation of capital murder in an alleged plot against his wife.

The move was made so Stern’s attorneys could look into evidence brought forth by prosecutors about Stern’s former mistress, who is expected to testify in the trial that Stern was the driving force behind three attempts on the life of socialite Yvonne Stern.

Prosecutors on April 2 suggested to defense attorneys that the mistress, Michelle Gaiser, may have been involved in a different murder-for-hire scheme and other criminal activity in the past.

Attorneys close to the investigation confirmed that the new evidence was that Gaiser may have tried to have a former lover killed and once put bleach in someone’s drink.

"If this woman has a pattern or practice of knowing how to put hits on people if that’s her modus operandi then that’s very relevant and that’s a big opening and a big deal for the defense, said KHOU 11 News legal analyst Gerald Treece.

Treece says this could cast reasonable doubt for jurors.

"If the major evidence is this woman and this woman is in incredible and made less credible by this exculpatory evidence, then I think it’s a bad day for making a prosecution against Mr. Stern," said Treece.

But this new evidence, according to Treece, doesn’t put Stern in the clear.

"If Mr. Stern was behind this and there’s evidence besides this woman’s testimony, none of this is going to make any difference. If they have Mr. Stern all over this conspiracy then this material will be like ships passing in the night it won’t make much difference," Treece said.

State District Judge Denise Bradley decided to postpone the two-week trial to July 27, 2012. It was initially set to begin on April 13, 2012.

The complicated case started in 2010, when investigators say three attempts were made on Yvonne Stern’s life.

In the last attempt, the socialite was shot in the stomach, but she eventually recovered.

The Sterns filed for divorce, but later reconciled.

Yvonne Stern has said she does not believe her husband was involved in the plot.

"Today, because of all that we’ve been through, our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been," Stern told Texas Monthly Executive Editor Skip Hollandsworth in January. "It’s full of love, it’s full of honesty, and it’s full of forgiveness."

Gaiser previously agreed to a 25-year sentence in exchange for her testimony against Jeffrey Stern.

 

 

 

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