New details in alleged murder-for-hire plot

Yvonne Stern survived three different murder attempts, including a shooting in May that left her wounded.
June 17, 2010 3:04:44 AM PDT
With the arraignment of a third suspect, we're getting more insight into the alleged murder-for-hire plot against a lawyer's wife. Prosecutors say there are a lot of players in this plot. Prosecutors said originally, Michelle Gaiser offered $20,000 to kill her lover's wife, but as that job got passed around, that payment got dwindled to an old used car.

Three people remained in jail Wednesday night with no bond. One of them is a tattoo artist whose wife didn't want to talk us. With her husband in jail, implicated in a murder-for-hire plot, emotions at their house in Alief are running high.

"How long have ya'll been married?" we asked her.

"It ain't none of your business," she replied.

On Wednesday morning, she was in court as James Lowery was arraigned.

"He did solicit the murder, and he did receive payment for it," Asst. Harris County District Attorney Kari Allen said.

Prosecutors say Lowery was paid as part of an elaborate plot to kill Bellaire socialite Yvonne Stern. It's a plot Houston police are still trying to piece together.

"We believe there are one or two people who actually did the shooting, but there are many others involved," Allen said.

Also in court Wednesday on probable cause was Richard Gutierrez, a wrecker driver police say Michelle Gaiser recruited to kill Stern. He turned himself one day earlier.

Attorneys in the case say Gaiser was having an affair with Stern's husband, lawyer Jeffrey Stern. There were 3 attempts on Mrs. Stern's life. On May 5, she was shot but survived.

Prosecutors say Gaiser offered Gutierrez $10,000. Instead, he got $3,000. He then recruited Lowery also with the promise of $10,000. But Lowery, who works in a tattoo parlor, got a used car he gave to his mother.

"Is this the car?" we asked Lowery's wife.

She wouldn't answer any questions on the advice of her husband's attorney.

"Do you want to defend him at least?" we asked.

"Yes I do! He's my husband," she said.

Prosecutors say not all the defendant's stories are consistent but all are talking and did so even before they were arrested.

"It's very unusual to have this many people involved in this kind of offense," Allen said. "Generally, people try to keep quiet about doing stuff like this, and these people have talked a lot and talked to a lot of people about doing it."

A judge denied Lowery bond and ordered him not to contact the victim or alleged co-conspirators.

Police are still looking for two others, including the man who succeeded in wounding Stern. Meanwhile, we should learn even more Thursday morning. Gutierrez is expected back in court as is Jeffrey Stern for his first public appearance in an unrelated case. He was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon last week and denied knowing about any of this.

His alleged mistress, Gaiser, is also in custody, charged with solicitation of capital murder. Her bail is set at $500,000.


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