GENEVA — A Swiss jury convicted the former mistress of one of France's richest men of murder Wednesday after she admitted killing him during an argument over $1 million as he was dressed in a latex suit and tied up in a chair during their sex game.
Cecile Brossard testified that she had loved Edouard Stern and thought the banker would help her become financially independent and marry her, but that she became enraged during their final night together when he suggested she was a $1 million prostitute.
That prompted her to shoot her 50-year-old lover in the head, then three more times after he managed to get out of the chair and fell to the floor of his penthouse apartment in Geneva, according to prosecutor Daniel Zappelli.
"I am not a thief. I am not poisonous," Brossard, 40, told the court. "I am just desperately in love with a man and I will be forever."
The Frenchwoman turned to Stern's former wife, Beatrice David-Weill, and his children and asked their forgiveness.
The 12-member jury at Geneva's Court of Assizes found Brossard guilty of murdering the banker at his home in 2005. The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and she is expected to be sentenced Thursday.
Stern's bullet-ridden body found in his apartment in February 2005, wearing the head-to-toe latex suit, authorities said. Brossard was arrested two weeks later and admitted shooting the banker.
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 "made everything explode, my head, heart and mind," Brossard said. "Like a robot I went to get the gun in the drawer."
Brossard's lawyer Alec Reymond pleaded that it was a crime of passion, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. But Prosecutor Zappelli said Brossard knew exactly what she was doing.
"Edouard Stern was not killed because of sex, although we talked a lot about it in this trial," he told the court Tuesday. "Neither was he killed out of love, but out of hate. In the end, the money was the reason for his death."
After the crime, prosecutors 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.
Associated Press writer Nathalie Ogi contributed.