GENEVA – A Swiss court sentenced a woman to eight and a half years in prison Thursday for murdering one of France's richest men by shooting him while he was dressed in a latex suit and tied up in a chair during sex games.
Cecile Brossard admitted killing Edouard Stern but said it was because he enraged her by suggesting she was a $1 million prostitute.
The sentence handed down by the judge and a 12-member jury at Geneva's Court of Assizes said that her wrongdoing was "extremely serious" and the crime "particularly cowardly" because the victim had no way of defending himself or expecting such an act.
The body of the 50-year-old Stern, dressed in a head-to-toe latex suit, was found in his penthouse apartment in Geneva in 2005, authorities said. Brossard was arrested two weeks later and admitted shooting the banker.
With four years she spent in pretrial detention and conditional release after two-thirds of the term, she will be able to get out of jail at the end of 2010.
Brossard told the court Thursday that she will love Stern forever. "I've always protected his memory," she said.
"No words can express the extent of my suffering, nor the suffering of Beatrice Stern and the three children," she said, referring to Stern's divorced wife Beatrice David-Weill, who lives in New York with her children.
Brossard's defense lawyers said she would not appeal.
Marc Bonnant, the lawyer of Stern's children, said the verdict "rightly takes into account the seriousness of the crime as well as the lot of a woman who has been maltreated by life."
Prosecutor Daniel Zappelli had requested an 11-year prison term because he said Brossard took advantage of Stern's submissive position to shoot him, acting out of hate and egoism.
Defense lawyer Alec Reymond had pleaded that it was a crime of passion rather than murder and said Brossard felt guilty and was psychologically wracked. During the four years in detention, she was brought to a psychiatric clinic 11 times and once tried to commit suicide, he added.
Brossard said Stern deposited the $1 million he had promised in a special account for her, but that the two quarreled over control of the money. The former mistress denied that she killed him over the money, which she said she only wanted as proof of his love for her.
But the $1 million and the promise of marriage went hand in hand, she said, adding that the love story was shattered when Stern blocked the bank account and she understood he would not marry her. She felt humiliated and used, she said.
During their last evening together, they had sex games, with Stern wearing his latex suit and tied up on a chair in a submissive position, she recounted. When he told her, "One million for a whore, that's expensive," she said she lost control.
That prompted her to shoot Stern in the head, then three more times after he managed to get out of the chair and fell to the floor, she said.
The money was the reason why Brossard killed Stern, prosecutors said.
After the crime, they said, Brossard removed incriminating evidence, flew to Australia and lied to her friends on the phone.
Stern had a long background in investment banking, working for his family firm Banque Stern from the age of 22 and forcing his father out of the company two years later — with the help of two uncles.
Estimates of his wealth varied, but he was said to have been worth several hundred million dollars.
He sold the family business in 1985, but stayed on as chairman until 1998.
He also was once in line to succeed his father-in-law, Michel David-Weill, as head of the investment bank Lazard LLC, but left the company in 1997 after they argued.
He then moved to Geneva and set up his own investment fund, Investments Real Returns SA.