Charges dropped against Bellaire attorney in murder-for-hire case

Charges are dropped against Bellaire attorney Jeffrey Stern in murder-for-hire case

July 24, 2012 3:16:19 PM PDT
In a shocking move, Harris County prosecutors dropped their case against Bellaire lawyer Jeffrey Stern. He was accused in a plot to kill his own wife, but now he's free and clear.

Jeffrey Stern was facing two counts of solicitation of capital murder for allegedly conspiring with his mistress, Michelle Gaiser, to hire hitmen to kill his wife, Yvonne Stern. She survived three attempts on her life in 2010.

The case gained national attention, in large part because Yvonne Stern stood by her husband throughout the ordeal.

As dramatically as the saga began, it ended with almost no fanfare. Two years after Yvonne Stern survived three attempts on her life, with her husband charged in connection with it all, the charges against Jeffrey Stern were dropped.

"Yvonne Stern and Jeff and their children are relieved and grateful that this ordeal of the past two years is finally over," said Jeffrey Stern's attorney, Paul Nugent.

First Assistant District Attorney Jim Leitner said in a statement, "Ultimately, we have come to the conclusion that, at this point, the available evidence is not sufficient to justify taking this case to trial."

Eyewitness News has learned that the motion lists the reason for the dismissal as "insufficient corroboration of accomplice."

Jeffery Stern was expected to go on trial this week for the three attempts on his wife's life. He has maintained his innocence all along, and he and Yvonne have reconciled and she has been at his side during multiple court appearances.

Her attorney says this was not a rash decision by Mrs. Stern and Tuesday's developments prove it.

"A lot of people do not know Yvonne Stern. This is not a wallflower, this is not a lady without a whole lot of smarts and good judgement," said attorney Chip Lewis.

Now the Stern family says they just want to go on to live their lives.

But our legal analyst says prosecutors are leaving the doors open just a bit for future charges

"They're not closing the book all the way. The message to (Jeffrey) Stern is to keep your mouth shut, don't say anything, go on with your life," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

As for the other players in this sensational case, the mistress, Michelle Gaiser, still faces charges of solicitation of capital murder. She was expected to be the star witness against Jeffrey Stern.

Two other men involved in the plot have already pleaded guilty and are in prison. James Lowery pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to 15 years. Richard Gutierrez pleaded guilty to solicitation of capital murder and was also sentenced to 15 years.

The alleged gunman in one of the attempts -- Damian Flores -- had his first trial on attempted capital murder end in a mistrial, but he was sent to prison on an unrelated drug charge.

Stay with Eyewitness News and for the latest on this story.

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