A Hindu priest, convicted of the 2016 murder of his lover’s husband, has not been sentenced yet, due to possible “misconduct” at the Sacramento, California District Attorney’s office.
Raghua Sharma, of Elk Grove, California, and his three accomplices, Rohini Kumar, wife of the victim Ashok Kumar and Sharma’s paramour; Tiwan Greenwade; and Vicky Rainone, stood trial last December for Ashok Kumar’s murder, which occurred Aug. 12, 2016 at the victim’s home in South Sacramento. A jury found Sharma, Kumar, and Rainone guilty of murder, but found Greenwade guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
In a court motion filed April 20, Kumar’s attorney Michael Wise accused Sacramento Deputy District Attorney Noah Phillips of offering Greenwade a secret plea agreement, in which he would testify against the others in exchange for a lighter sentence. Wise has called for a new trial.
Phillips is running for the DA’s seat against incumbent Anne Marie Schubert.
“The Deputy District Attorney assigned to prosecute this matter made a secret deal with counsel for co-defendant Greenwade wherein the District Attorney would argue for manslaughter at closing argument in exchange for Mr. Greewade testifying in a manner that cast additional aspersions and guilt upon the remaining three co-defendants,” Wise wrote, adding that he did not know of a deal at trial, resulting in an unfair trial.
"If we knew he's essentially been offered something to change his testimony or testify in a certain manner then we would have been able to cross examine him on that,” the attorney told FoxNews40.
“I’ve never made this kind of allegation in 25 years of practice, but I’m disappointed by what I’ve read from the witness statements. We’ve identified several witnesses who indicated Greenwade spoke about having a deal for manslaughter,” Wise told The Sacramento Bee, adding that one witness even predicted that Phillips would argue for manslaughter before the deputy prosecutor presented his closing argument to the jury.
Wise noted that Phillips was “my friend” at the beginning of the trial.
Phillips vehemently denied offering a secret plea deal to Greenwade.
"I pursued first degree murder against Tiwan Greenwade. Take a look at my power point (slides) and my closing argument and you will see that my first argument as it related to Mr. Greenwade was in fact felony murder," Phillips told FoxNews40.
"I can tell you what's happening here. This is straight out of the political playbook,” he said, hinting that Schubert was using the trial for political mileage in the DA’S race.
Greenwade’s attorney has denied that his client entered into a secret plea agreement with the DA’s office.
During the trial, Phillips said the four suspects robbed, beat, and strangled the victim, in a plot hatched by his wife Rohini, who was upset that her husband had taken his mistress on vacation to Fiji. "The Kumar marriage lost its luster many years ago," said the deputy DA in opening arguments.
Sharma and Rohini Kumar were not only in a longtime romance together but also owned a shipping business together. (See earlier India-West story here.)