Mistrial Declared in Houston Murder-for-Hire Case

The hung Houston jury was not able to reach a unanimous decision.

ByABC News
November 4, 2011, 4:21 AM

Nov. 4, 2011— -- A mistrial was declared today in the Houston trial of a man prosecutors say was hired to kill a millionaire's socialite wife.

The trial came to a halt on just the second day of deliberations by the jury which was considering attempted murder charges against Damian Flores. Prosecutors allege that Flores was recruited by Jeffrey Stern and his mistress Michelle Gaiser to kill Stern's wife, Yvonne Stern.

Stern's trial is scheduled for later, but he and his wife have reconciled.

During deliberations, jurors asked to be read back testimonies from socialite Yvonne Stern and a police officer, regarding a the lineup from which the accused shooter was identified. The jury was reportedly hung just before 3 p.m. and unable to reach a unanimous decision, according to ABC News affiliate KTRK.

Shortly after, a mistrial was declared. It is not yet known if prosecutors will request a retrial.

Gaiser told the jury how she arranged to have Yvonne Stern murdered in the parking lot of her apartment building. Gaiser said that she gave Flores $15,000 as a down payment on the hit.

Prosecutors painted Flores as a cold-blooded killer.

"Damian Flores doesn't look the part. Damian Flores is the part," attorney for the prosecution Justin Keiter said.

Yvonne Stern testified Monday that when he approached her while she sat in her car she begged Flores for her life, but that he took a few steps away, turned around, and fired through the glass.

"He had the opportunity to not kill her," prosecutor Kari Allen said. "But what did he do? He turned around, he bit his lip and he pulled the trigger."

Gaiser admitted to the jury she told Flores where Stern lived, what type of car she drove and when she would be alone.

"He was supposed to go over and wait for Yvonne and do the job -- shoot Yvonne," Gaiser said.

In exchange for her dramatic testimony, Gaiser made a deal with prosecutors in which pleading guilty to solicitation of capital murder led to a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Sam Cammack, Flores' defense attorney, maintains that Gaiser is "a liar, and she's lying about Damian Flores."

Gaiser is also expected to testify against Jeffrey Stern when he stands trial in a few months.

Yvonne Stern had started divorce proceedings, citing adultery, but later changed her mind and reconciled with her husband.

The socialite's two sisters are now speaking out about how they are standing by her and supporting her decision to stay with her husband, even though he's accused of plotting with his mistress to have her murdered.

Teresa Flores, one of Yvonne Stern's sisters, told ABC News that it takes a strong woman to look past infidelity and stay in a marriage.

"We are all human beings," Flores said. "We make mistakes. I mean ... she's forgiving. They love each other. ? It's hard for her, but it goes back to forgiveness. For the love she has for her husband ... the love she has for her kids."Liz Tenczynski, her other sister, said that the situation comes down to a marital indiscretion.

"There's many men who have affairs, but then, of course, women don't almost get murdered. ... So this case is unique, but basically it's an affair. That's how she sees it," she said.

Both sisters told "Good Morning America" that their sister is not gullible and is "very strong."

Police say the shooting was the third attempt on Yvonne Stern's life. Prosecutors are making the case that Stern and his mistress worked hand-in-hand to hire hit men to shoot Yvonne.