I didn’t see this one coming.
Yvonne Stern, the wife of Houston personal injury attorney Jeffrey Stern, has filed a civil lawsuit against her husband's former mistress, Michelle Gaiser, for trying to kill her in three separate murder-for-hire plots. Yvonne accuses Gaiser of assaulting her and causing her emotional distress.
Hell hath no fury like a betrayed wife scorned.
In our February issue, I wrote about Yvonne, Jeffrey, Michelle, and the various hit men Michelle hired to kill Yvonne . After police finally arrested Michelle and her hit men in the summer of 2010, she fingered Jeffrey as the mastermind behind the entire plot, saying that he paid her to find the hit men and kept paying her to find more hit men after the first group kept bungling the attempts on Yvonne’s life.
In the wake of the sensational allegations, Yvonne filed for divorce. But then came the flabbergasting twist in the story: Yvonne soon dropped her divorce petition and welcomed Jeffrey back into their home, claiming that he had nothing to do with the attempts to kill her. She even stuck by Jeffrey after a grand jury pored over the evidence about the shootings and indicted Jeffrey on charges of solicitiation of capital murder. She said she and her husband were victims of Michelle, whom she described as an obsessed stalker.
In the story I wrote, I quoted from a seventy-page letter that Michelle wrote detailing her affair with Jeffrey and laying out how he persuaded her to find hit men to kill Yvonne for him. After the story was published, I spoke to Yvonne, who was clearly devastated—and furious—over Michelle’s allegations. (Among other things Michelle wrote in her letter was that Jeffrey spoke at length about how he wanted Yvonne murdered and that he described her as a bad mother who also had her own boyfriends.) Yvonne adamantly denied everything Michelle wrote about her and claimed that Michelle was a desperate, psychotic woman.
I assumed the veracity of Michelle’s letter would be determined at Jeffrey’s trial, which begins in mid-April. (In a plea bargain, Michelle has already pled guilty to solicitation of capital murder with her prison sentence capped at 25 years.) I also assumed at that trial that Yvonne would get her opportunity to testify and let jurors know just how much she despises Michelle. But apparently, she couldn’t wait. In the lawsuit, which was filed by her attorney Chip Lewis, Yvonne claims Michelle operated under an "unfounded delusion" that if her hit men killed Yvonne, she would "live happily ever-after" with Jeffrey.
Brian Rogers, the criminal courts reporter for the Houston Chronicle, got an interview with Michelle’s attorneys, James Stafford and Deborah Keyser, who claimed the lawsuit is actually a ploy by Jeffrey Stern’s own lawyers, Paul Nugent and Heather Pederson, to find out what Michelle knows before Jeffrey’s trial. That way, Michelle’s attorneys speculate, they will be able to better shape their defense.
Lewis, however, wrote me in an email, "Mrs. Stern filed this suit to ensure that she and her family receive the full measure of justice from Ms. Gaiser. This woman tried to kill Yvonne not once, not twice, but at least three separate times (as she has confessed to the police and testified to under oath). Despite these attempts by this murderous maniac, the criminal prosecutor ignored Mrs. Stern's plea for justice and cut a deal with this would-be-murderer.”
Lewis then dropped a bombshell, claiming Michelle had another secret life that no one knew about. “Recently,” he wrote, “Mrs. Stern learned that Gaiser accumulated substantial wealth through various liaisons with multiple men. Contrary to the criminal prosecutor and Gaiser's lawyers, Mrs. Stern feels it is only right that she and her family are justly compensated for the irreparable harm suffered at the hands of this evil woman." (The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages from Michelle for medical expenses and money for pain and suffering.)
Deborah Keyer, in turn, declared in her email, “Once again, the Stern machine, of which Mrs. Stern is certainly a party, is misrepresenting the facts … The allegations that Ms. Gaiser has some hidden pocket of funds is ludicrous and disingenuous. This suit is merely a back door effort by Mrs. Stern, and, by extension, Mr. Stern, to discover exactly what details that Ms. Gaiser has revealed regarding Mr. Stern's deviant affinities and his orchestration of this entire event. He sounds nervous, as well he should be.”
Jeffrey’s trial begins in five weeks. And to those of you who live in Houston, I would suggest you reserve a seat in the courtroom.