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Texas lawyer Jeffrey Stern cleared of murder-for-hire despite three suspected tries to kill wife

Yvonne Stern, and Jeffrey Stern (far right), in court on Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 KHOU

(CBS/AP) HOUSTON - Prosecutors have dropped all charges against Houston-area attorney Jeffrey Stern, who was accused of orchestrating at least three unsuccessful attempts to kill his wife, after they decided they don't have enough evidence against him.

Stern was set for a final pretrial hearing later this week. His lawyer, Paul Nugent, said Tuesday that the Harris County district attorney's office was dropping all charges against Stern.

Stern was charged with two counts of soliciting capital murder in a 2010 plot that involved his mistress. His wife, Yvonne, was shot but survived.

Stern stated he had no involvement in the murder attempts.

According to CBS affliiate KHOU, prosecutors originally claimed that Stern and his former mistress, Michelle Gaiser, conspired to have Yvonne Stern killed in 2010.

There were three attempts on her life that year. On the third try she was shot in the stomach, but survived.

The case took a dramatic turn last month when defense attorneys dropped a bombshell saying the former mistress, Gaiser, had been plotting a hit on Jeffrey Stern from her jail cell, KHOU reported.

Gaiser pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation of capital murder in exchange for testimony against Stern and a reduced sentence.

The most recent allegations against Gaiser raised questions about her credibility as the star witness against Stern.

"The Harris County District Attorney's Office has a duty to not simply prosecute, but to seek justice," said District Attorney Jim Leitner in a written statement Tuesday. "Ultimately we have come to the conclusion that, at this point, the available evidence is not sufficient to justify taking this case to trial.

Yvonne Stern had filed for divorce, but it was never finalized. She has since reunited with her attorney-husband, and has stood by him during all of the court proceedings. She said she does not believe he had anything to do with the plot against her.

"Today, because of all that we've been through, our marriage is stronger than it's ever been," Stern told Texas Monthly Executive Editor Skip Hollandsworth in January. "It's full of love, it's full of honesty, and it's full of forgiveness."

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