Local

Guilty verdict in socialite murder-for-hire case

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It didn't take a Houston jury long to find a man guilty of trying to kill a local socialite as part of a murder-for-hire plot. Now that same jury is preparing to decide his punishment.

The jury is now considering the appropriate punishment for the man convicted of trying to shoot Bellaire socialite Yvonne Stern through the front door of her home last year. They convicted that man on Tuesday morning and it turns out, this isn't the first violent crime Nhut Nguyen has committed.

It took the jury one hour to come back with a guilty verdict for Nguyen on Tuesday morning -- guilty of aggravated assault in the attempted shooting of Yvonne Stern.

She's the woman who was the target in what investigators think was an elaborate murder-for-hire plot allegedly hatched by her husband Jeffrey Stern and his mistress, Michelle Gaiser.

Nguyen, investigators say, was just the hired, would-be killer.

In the punishment phase of Nguyen's trial Tuesday, FBI agent Daniel Grant from Boston testified that Nguyen was a member of a violent gang in Boston's Chinatown in the 1990's. He was convicted of racketeering and the murder of a rival gang leader.

Nguyen "is a violent person based on the murder of Phoung Lee," the agent told the jury.

Then Yvonne Stern herself took the stand, telling the jury that after Nguyen shot through her front door on April 15, 2010, that "we basically turned our house into Fort Knox."

Stern went on to tell the jury, "I'm a mom, a grandmother, a carpool person; who would want me dead? I'm a normal person."

The defense, noting that Nguyen had cooperated with the FBI in Boston, leading to the conviction of the leader of his own gang, asked the jury to give him 15 years behind bars.

But the prosecution took a different view, asking them to give Nguyen 60 years.

"Yvonne Stern is here by the grace of this gun jamming," said prosecutors.

The punishment phase of Nguyen's trial is still underway.

Yvonne Stern was shot just 20 days after the attempted shooting through her front door, but when Nguyen's defense asked about the charges her husband faces, the prosecution objected and that judge sustained that objection.

Jeffery Stern's trial is scheduled for next year.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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bellaire, local, adela uchida
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