Socialite takes stand in murder-for-hire trial

October 31, 2011 7:40:50 PM PDT
It was an emotional day on the stand for Yvonne Stern, the wife of a prominent attorney from Bellaire, who prosecutors say was the target of a murder-for-hire plot. Her husband, Jeffrey Stern, is accused of paying another man, Damian Flores, to kill her. Today Flores is on trial, and Yvonne told her story.

With her husband sitting in the front row of the courtroom, Yvonne told her story, with a lot of tears. It was a story that had some members of the jury sitting on the edge of their seats.

"We're getting past this," Yvonne told Eyewitness News. "I forgive him for his indiscretions."

Yvonne did not answer any of our questions. Neither did her husband, Jeffrey, as they walked side by side out of the courtroom.

Inside the courtroom, Yvonne cried throughout her testimony describing the day she was shot in the stomach in April of last year. Damian Flores, 28, is charged with the crime.

Yvonne testified, "He jumped out of his car and came charging at me with a gun. He had a pair of mirrored aviators. He didn't run. He walked and came charging at me."

Prosecutors say Yvonne identified Flores through a police lineup. However, at the time of the shooting, the defense says she identified someone else.

Under cross examination, defense lawyer Sam Cammack asked, "You told police you were 99 percent sure Tino shot you."

Yvonne answered, "They look a lot alike, yes."

Cammack says a man named Tino Posada was a subcontractor hired by the Sterns to work on the floors of their Bellaire home and he was owed money.

"It was Tino, it was Tino, it was Tino," Cammack told the jury. "She makes a statement to the police later that I wanted my husband to know that if I died, that Tino shot me."

The prosecution says Yvonne Stern's ID of Flores isn't their only way of identifying Flores as the gunman. According to prosecutors, Jeffrey Stern had an affair with Michelle Gaiser and the pair ordered a hit on Yvonne. Gaiser is scheduled to testify in this trial.

Prosecutor Kari Allen told the jury, "You will hear from her mouth on the witness stand that she in fact did hire Damian Flores to kill Yvonne Stern and that she paid him money, and that even after Yvonne lived, they attempted to ensure her death."

Yvonne did file for divorce after the shooting, but has since reconciled with her husband.

She told Eyewitness News, "He had nothing to do with this and could not do anything with this. We are victims of a fatal attraction."

Prosecutors say Gaiser has reached a plea agreement with them. She will testify in this trial and she will also plead guilty to solicitation of capital murder, with a possible punishment of 25 years.

Jeffrey Stern is charged with solicitation of capital murder. His trial is scheduled to start in February of next year.

The hit man who shot at Yvonne Stern a month before this event has already been convicted. Last August, Nhut Nguyen was convicted and sentenced to 45 years in prison for shooting at the mother of two through the window of her Bellaire home.


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