In the story adapted for the Heavy Metal movie, which is the only one that significant information about is available online, Sternn is standing on trial for 12 counts of first–degree murder, 14 counts of armed theft, 22 counts of piracy, 18 counts of fraud, 37 counts of rape, and 1 moving violation, equaling to 104 counts, all of which is true.
Despite this, Captain Sternn pleads "not guilty", to the shock of his lawyer, a nervous, shifty-eyed (as a result of social awkwardness rather than dishonesty), and very sensitive man named Charlie, who tells him that the best they can hope for is for him to be buried somewhere where his grave will not be defiled after being executed. However, Sternn confidently tells Charlie that he has "an angle" as he calls a witness, Hanover Fiste, to the stand to defend him. Fiste, a small, gangly, meek, unassuming, and seemingly innocent man, at first makes dishonest, overly nice statements about how good a person Sternn supposedly is, but slowly he starts saying negative things as well, which escalate before culminating in "he's nothing but a low–down, double dealing, backstabbing, larcenous, perverted worm".
Hanging's too good for him! Burning's too good for him. He should be torn into little bitty pieces, and buried alive! I'll kill him! KILL!" as Fiste transforms into a Hulk–like musclebound giant and starts rampaging through the courtroom. According to this "testimony", some of Sternn's other crimes include running a preschoolers prostitute ring and dealing dope to kids disguised as a nun. Captain Sternn escapes this rampage before meeting up with Hanover Fiste again just as he turns back into his normal self to receive his payment from the corrupt captain. It turns out Sternn had hired Fiste to go crazy in the courtroom so he could escape amidst the mayhem. This situation also reveals Hanover's greedy and shifty side.
However, in the movie version, Sternn then kills Fiste for no reason by dropping him through a trapdoor into space under him, even though this doesn't happen in the comic story.