SACRAMENTO -- Is it prosecutorial misconduct or a political hack job on the candidacy of Noah Phillips in a hotly contested race he's running against his old boss for her current job, District Attorney of Sacramento County?
Whatever a court eventually decides the answer is, the dramatic allegations are draped over the facts of another dramatic scenario -- a murder trial in which Hindu priest Raghua Sharma has been convicted of killing Ashok Kumar, his married lover's husband.
The lover and Kumar's wife, Rohini, her employee Vicki Rainone and Rainone's friend, Tiwan Greenwade, were also found guilty in the death.
Thanks to inmate interviews, Mike Wise requested a new murder trial for his client, the Hindu priest, last week based on a secret deal he says prosecutor Phillips made with Greenwade.
Emails are the basis of a new brief he's filed. He says they further prove Phillips made that improper deal that wasn't disclosed to the other defendants.
Wise said a message from Phillips to Greenwade's lawyer, Danny Brace, on Jan. 11 gives Brace the answers he's looking for in cross-examination. Those answers were designed to make the others in the murder crew look even more guilty.
All of it was supposed to be in exchange for a reduction to voluntary manslaughter versus the first-degree murder charge the others were facing.
Greenwade was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
"Right here, Sharma and Kumar and Rainone were down for robbery and it's bolded. He wants to make sure that Mr. Greenwade conveys to that jury that the three remaining co-defendants were down for robbery as compared to a fake burglary," Wise said.
That's one note in 19 pages worth of Phillips' work emails Wise received from the DA's office as part of the discovery process in the case.
"I've never known a prosecutor to give a defense attorney an outline of questions... they intend to ask their questions on cross in a contested hearing," Wise said.
In another email, attorney Brace asks Phillips if he's OK with a midterm sentence recommendation for Greenwade.
"There's no reason for Mr. Brace to seek Mr. Phillips' opinion on the appropriate sentence unless they'd had an agreement," Wise said.
Brace wasn't in his office when FOX40 visited Thursday and didn't return a request for comment. Earlier in the week, he told FOX40 by phone there was no deal and thus no emails about a deal.
"At no point did I enter into an implicit or secret deal with Mr. Greenwade or Mr. Greenwade's attorney," Phillips said when FOX40 caught up with him last week.
He was unavailable to speak on camera Thursday after the email brief had been filed. Phillips' campaign did send FOX40 the following statement Thursday, which reads in part, "We've made requests to have the attorney general handle this matter and we're waiting to hear back." They went on to say, "... There was no deal between the parties."