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THE COURT: You may have a seat. JAMES BINFORD, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows: DIRECT EXAMINATION


Academic year: 2022

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THE COURT: You may have a seat.


having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:


Q. Good morning.

A. Good morning.

Q. Would you please state your name for the record and the ladies and gentlemen of the jury?

A. My name is James Binford.

Q. Are you currently employed?

A. I am.

Q. How are you employed?

A. I am a licensed private investigator in the State of Texas.

Q. How long have you been a PI?

A. Three or four years.

Q. What did you do before that?

A. I was a Houston police officer for 40 years.

Q. Were you ever assigned to the homicide division?

A. For 33 years I was assigned to the homicide division of the Houston Police Department.

Q. And as a private investigator, what do you do?

A. Well, we are client driven. We are hired by


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clients to do various tasks, surveillances, armed professional body guard, investigations, security sweeps, security things, there's also some domestic issues that come up. It's a wide range of things. We do not have that criminal arrest power. We're outside of the police. It's a different hat these days.

Q. And in certain areas are you able to investigate things differently than the police do

because of the legalities involved in the private sector versus the police?

A. Yes, the police department is latent with

policies and rules and so forth as well they should be.

And the private investigators sometimes have more leeway when they're going to work and how they work and who they talk to.

Q. And do you work for an investigative company, or are you self-employed?

A. No, I work for Premier Protection. It's a state licensed protection investigative concern. They have federal contracts and a pretty wide ranging scope of duties.

Q. In that regard as a licensed PI, were you

and/or the company hired by Jeff Stern in April of 2010?

A. I was, we were.

Q. And what was the purpose did you believe of


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your, or what was your goal after having been hired by Mr. Stern?

A. I was informed that his --

MR. DAVIS: I'd object to hearsay, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Sustained. Just rephrase the question.

Q. (BY MS. ALLEN) Okay. Without saying what he said, did Mr. Stern tell you of things that had happened at their home in Bellaire?

A. Yes, incidents that were occurring at the home in Bellaire, Texas.

Q. Specifically, an April 15th shooting?

MR. DAVIS: I'd object to the leading as well.

THE COURT: Don't lead your witness.

Q. (BY MS. ALLEN) What was your goal after you were hired by Mr. Stern?

MR. DAVIS: I'd object this is back door hearsay and denying the Defendant the right to confront the person who is the maker of those statements or

setter of those goals.

THE COURT: Your objection is overruled.

A. To do a security check and to conduct further investigations that may be needed as a security check


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and the initial investigation continued.

Q. (BY MS. ALLEN) In that regard, did you

question the Stern family specifically Mr. Stern about anybody he might have thought was a suspect?

A. Yes, I had a long conversation with Mr. Stern.

Q. As a result of that conversation, did you start looking into a person by the name of Faustino Posada?

MR. DAVIS: Again, Your Honor, I'd object this is backdoor hearsay, and the Defendant is being denied the constitutional right to confront his accuser.

THE COURT: Your objection is overruled.

A. Yes, I started with the name of Tino, only the name of Tino; and I developed and evolved into Tino's real name, Faustino Posada.

Q. (BY MS. ALLEN) And did you become aware that Ms. Stern had been shot on May 5th of 2010?

A. I did.

Q. When you learned of the shooting, approximately how long after the shooting did you find out about it?

A. Moments, probably 15, 20 minutes at the most.

Q. How did you find out about it?

A. Mr. Stern called me on the telephone and told me that his wife had been shot.

Q. When Mr. Stern told you that or after Mr. Stern told you that, did you contact the investigators with


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the Houston Police Department homicide division?

A. I later did. First of all, I called the Bellaire Police Department; and I learned that it did not occur in Bellaire. Officers had knowledge of that case. And I was referred back, and I called the

homicide division and found out who was working the case.

Q. And did you, in fact, tell Sergeant Cegielski about your developing the identity of Faustino Posada?

A. Yes, I immediately shared that man's name, his birthday and address that I developed on him, probably two hours earlier.

Q. Prior to the May 5th shooting, were there conversations between you and Jeff Stern and Yvonne Stern regarding who might have committed the April 15th shooting?

A. Yes, we had long conversations, mostly with Mr.

Stern and shortly with Mrs. Stern.

Q. And was there one name that kept coming up over and over and over again?

A. Tino.

Q. So--

MS. ALLEN: I have no further questions, Your Honor. I'll pass the witness.

THE COURT: All right, Mr. Davis.


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MR. DAVIS: May I have one moment, Your Honor?

THE COURT: You may.


Q. Now, sir, the name Damian Flores never came up in your investigation?

A. No, sir, never heard of him.

Q. So, you were hired prior to Ms. Stern being shot?

A. I was.

Q. And so you were saying that you had conversations in April with the Sterns?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. And you were first hired in what month, sir?

A. In April.

Q. In April?

A. Right, April the 19th.

Q. So, around April 19th you get hired. And you were saying during the course of your conversations with the Sterns that the name Tino came up?

A. Numerous times, yes, sir.

Q. Numerous times?

A. Yes.

Q. And so was there a dispute with Tino?


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A. Yes.

Q. And so the Sterns had belief that there was a dispute with Tino?

A. The Sterns, yes, they were suspect of Tino.

Q. They were suspect of Tino because of some type of contracting issue; is that what you learned?

A. Yes, Tino was a subcontractor of a contractor who was doing repair and remodeling in the Stern home.

And the question was if the contractor had been paid, but he had not paid the subcontractors of which Tino was one of the subcontractors. And that it was felt that Tino was mad and wanted his money and didn't understand that there was a go-between that was causing him not to get his money.

Q. So, all of this is before the May shooting?

A. Yes.

Q. And so do you have any idea why Tino would say there wasn't any dispute?

MS. ALLEN: I object, that calls for speculation.

THE COURT: You can answer if you know.

A. I think that Tino is a craftsman that thought that he did a very good job, and all he wanted was his money. There was no dispute. I just want to be paid is the way I understand it.


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Q. (BY MR. DAVIS) Is the way you understand it?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. So, you think Tino would say there was no dispute because he just wanted to get paid?

A. I don't know Tino's personality to judge that.

The big overall picture to me was that he was a prideful craftsman that wanted to be paid.

Q. You've been a police officer for a long time?

A. 40 years.

Q. And when you were an officer, you had an opportunity to interview suspects?

A. I did.

Q. And oftentimes when a suspect is in a suspect room, a suspect is nervous in a suspect room, right?

A. Oftentimes suspects and just witnesses are nervous in the police presence and the investigation, everybody is nervous.

Q. And when you're in a room with a suspect and he's being accused of a crime, oftentimes a suspect will defray attention away from himself?

MS. ALLEN: Object to relevance.

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q. (BY MR. DAVIS) Well, now, based on your

training and experience, we're asking a question as to why Tino might say there wasn't a dispute. If there was


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a dispute that definitely would defray attention to Tino; would you agree?

MS. ALLEN: I object, it's speculative.

THE COURT: That objection is sustained.

Q. (BY MR. DAVIS) So based on your training and experience, you're able to see if people are able to limit their motives, it makes them less likely to be a suspect?

MS. ALLEN: I object to relevance of what happens in other investigations.

THE COURT: Overruled.

A. I am aware that people have tried to change the topic, get away from the point that we're working on.

Q. (BY MR. DAVIS) Now, the Sterns were so

concerned about Tino that they went out and hired you as a private investigator?

A. They did.

Q. And they told you about him, right?

A. They gave me the name, Tino.

Q. And you started looking into him and identified him?

A. I started to search for Tino.

Q. And you were able to identify him?

A. Yes, I was able to identify him on May the 5th.

Q. And when the police called and said Mrs. Stern


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had been shot, you provided information about his identity?

A. The police did not call. Mr. Stern called and I called the police.

Q. Yes, sir, I'm sorry. I was wrong. When you got information about the shooting and you contacted the police?

A. I did.

Q. And gave them the identifying information on Tino?

A. Yes, I wanted to help the Sterns catch the person that they thought shot her.

MR. DAVIS: One moment, Your Honor?

THE COURT: All right.

Q. (BY MR. DAVIS) Were you told, sir, that one of Faustino Posada's co-workers threw a brick at Ms. Stern?

A. No, I had been told that a contractor had

pitched a hammer and it was unknown if it was a tomahawk throw or if it was just a angry

throw-the-hammer-down-type thing. I did not hear about anybody throwing a brick.

Q. So, it was a hammer, I'm sorry. So you heard about one of the contractors throwing a hammer in the direction of Mrs. Stern?

A. Flipping a hammer down, and it was viewed as


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Q. And it was because they were upset about payment issues?

A. I think the pay issue was building pretty quick.

Q. Now, in regards to Michelle Gaiser, did Jeffrey Stern ever tell you anything about a lady named Michelle Gaiser?

A. No.

Q. Did he ever raise her as a potential suspect?

A. No.

Q. Did any of your investigation ever lead you in that investigation?

A. To Michelle Gaiser? No, I heard about her when the public heard about her.

MR. DAVIS: I don't have anything else, Your Honor.

THE COURT: All right, Ms. Allen.

MS. ALLEN: Nothing further, Your Honor.

May this witness be excused?

THE COURT: Is there any objection?

MR. DAVIS: There's no objection.

THE COURT: Thank you, Sergeant Binford.

You may be excused.

WITNESS: Thank you, Your Honor.


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