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Hindu Priest, 3 Others Stand Trial for Murder of Ashok Kumar

SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento County prosecutors say four things are at the heart of a murder case against four people bound by business and romance and since August 2016 by the planned killing of Ashok Kumar.

"Money, retribution, payouts and paybacks," Deputy District Attorney Noah Phillips listed for the jury during opening statements.

The people allege that Kumar -- who was known to bring home the till from his store -- was robbed, beaten and strangled in his home as part of a plot planned by his own wife, Rohini.

"The Kumar marriage lost its luster many years ago," said Phillips, whose case features the notion that Rohini was upset that Ashok had followed her lead in stepping outside of their marriage and had taken a girlfriend to Fiji on vacation.

Phillips shared with jurors part of a conversation he says was shared with a friend by Rohini's lover and fellow defendant Raghua Sharma.

"Ashok came over to my house and told my wife about the affair I was having with his wife," relayed Phillips.

It's a conversation made even more scandalous because Sharma is a Hindu priest, who reportedly helped with his alleged victim's funeral.

Sharma and Rohini Kumar were not only in a longtime romance together but also owners of a longtime shipping business.

His attorney, Michael Wise, reserved the right to make an opening statement later at the start of the defense case.

The people intend to present witnesses who'll say Sharma broadcasted that he would hurt his paramour's husband.

"He said...something's gonna have to be done about him," said Phillips.

While prosecutors spoke to the jury of nine women and three men and five alternates for about 16 minutes, defense attorney Dan Brace spoke for just four.

"A struggle happened. You're gonna hear about that struggle during this trial and how it's not murder," Brace.

He represents Tiwan Greenwade - one member of the supposed 4-person murder crew.

Brace claims his client was just looking to make some extra cash in August of last year and when someone came looking for help moving a safe, he agreed.

Prosecutors say that someone was Vicky Rainone - an employee of Rohini Kumar.

They say shed went to the Calais Circle trailer park recruiting killers to attack her boss' husband...a man she knew.

"There's no way she could come and plot and think she could rob mister Ashok Kumar and get away with it for goodness sake," said Rainoine's lawyer John Lippsmeyer.

Rainone maintains she was just asked by her boss to move a safe and left the victim's house when she felt the situation was souring, before any crime was committed.

The attorney for Rohini Kumar also reserved his opening statement for the start of the defense.

The Kumars' middle daughter came to court for the start of the trial but as the child of both the victim and a defendant, was too emotional to speak out on camera today.