Death Plot Takes Surprising Turn

PHOTO A Houston woman who has survived three attempts on her life is now standing by her husband, whos been indicted in the crime.PlayABC News
WATCH Alleged Target Stands by Her Man

A Houston woman who has survived three attempts on her life is now standing by her husband, who's been indicted in the crime. She even accompanied him to the police station as he turned himself in, hugging him and holding his hand.

"Let me be perfectly clear, Jeff Stern is innocent of these charges," Paul Nugent, Jeffrey Stern's lawyer, told ABC News.

Jeffrey Stern's 38-year-old mistress, Michelle Cabrera Gaiser, who had done work for him, was arrested and charged with plotting to kill his wife. Soon after, four other people were also arrested, and Yvonne Stern filed for divorce, citing adultery by her 53-year-old husband. But just months later, she changed her mind, and the couple reconciled.

Nugent told reporters that his client apologized to his family for the affair.

"The only thing Jeff is guilty of is having had a marital transgression," said Nugent.

But the Harris County District Attorney, who indicted Stern on two counts of solicitation of capital murder, does not agree.

"The prosecutor had to tell me frankly, 'Look, I understand her position – I respect it. I can tell it's heartfelt. The prosecutor doesn't suffer any misimpression that Mr. Stern has convinced her or cajoled her into this," Chip Lewis, Yvonne Stern's attorney, told ABC News.

The first attempt to kill Yvonne Stern was a drive by shooting at their home in February 2010. Two months later, in April, someone rang the doorbell and when Yvonne Stern came to the door, she saw a man through the glass in the door raise a gun at her. Stern jumped for cover and the man shot through the glass. The whole family was at home, and the teenage son was downstairs with Yvonne Stern, but no one was hurt.

According to Nugent, Jeffrey Stern took precautions to fortify his house and protect his family, hiring a retired police officer to advise him. The family then moved to an apartment for safety.

But a gunman tracked Yvonne Stern down there as well. In May 2010, Stern was sitting in the driver's seat of her car in the parking garage at their apartment. A man approached her window with a gun leveled at her head. She begged and pleaded through the window, telling the gunman about her children and a new grandchild. The gunman had a change of heart and lowered the gun from her head to her abdomen. He hesitated but then shot her in the stomach. She slumped over, played dead, and then, bleeding, drove herself to the nearest gas station for help, according to Lewis.

Why Would Yvonne Stern Stand By Her Husband?

Jeffrey Stern, a personal injury lawyer, is one of five people now charged in the conspiracy. So why would his wife stand by him?

"Initially she we would probably expect, extremely antagonistic toward her husband any contact any communication, she was very dead set against. She's got two very young bright children and the lack of their father's presence in their life weighed on her more so than anything," said Lewis.

"She is without a doubt convinced that he got involved with a woman who, for whatever reasons, through whatever grandeur delusions, psychosis, whatever it may be, believed that she needed to get rid of Mrs. Stern. And that is where the prosecutor and Mrs. Stern differ...she doesn't believe he had anything to do with planning the attempts on her life," said Lewis.

Those who know Yvonne Stern say her 20-year marriage seemed happy and that Stern believes that if her husband wanted her dead, he had every opportunity to succeed.

"She knows this man better than anyone. She knows that if he wanted to have her killed, it would have happened," said Lewis.

But Yvonne Stern is open to what the investigation uncovers, if anything.

"Her eyes are wide open. She is not to the point of I am convinced beyond ever being convinced otherwise. She is standing by because of her convictions down on her belief but she has said to the prosecutor and in my presence , 'Show me, show me where I'm wrong. Give it to me,'" said Lewis.

If called upon, Yvonne Stern says she will testify. In the meantime, her husband is free on one million dollars bond, $500,000 for each first-degree felony. If Stern is convicted, his punishment will range from 5 to 99 years or life in prison and fine of up to $10,000.

Olivia Katrandjian contributed to this report.