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'Desperate Housewives' trial: Creator shows jury cryptic writers' notes

March 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The creator of "Desperate Housewives" on Wednesday showed jurors writers' notes detailing different ways in which Nicollette Sheridan's character could be killed in the months before he and the actress argued on the set.

Marc Cherry explained notes written in code from story meetings conducted in May, four months prior to the backstage argument. Sheridan's character Edie Britt and a new husband, Steve, were part of what Cherry called a mystery storyline.

There was a reference to a body that was Britt's, Cherry said. Britt's name was not written down, he testified, to ensure secrecy.

In another note, Cherry told jurors the code "Steven drinks OJ" was a reference to Sheridan's on-screen husband killing Britt. He said it was a reference to O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of killing his wife.

The notes are a key part of Cherry's defense that he didn't kill off Sheridan's role on "Desperate Housewives" in retaliation for her complaining about the veteran television writer and producer hitting her during their dispute. Sheridan claims Cherry whacked her hard on the head, but he claims he only delivered a tap as artistic direction for a scene.

Sheridan is suing Cherry and ABC, claiming she was fired from the hit series after complaining that Cherry hit her during the September 2008 argument. She is seeking more than $6 million.

Sheridan's attorneys Mark Baute said the notes were from creative brainstorming for the fifth season, not a real plan.

"We are going to argue it was an idea and an idea only, nothing close to a decision," Baute said.

Head writer for the show, Lori Baker, was in the meetings referenced by Cherry. She testified Wednesday that there was no plan to have Britt eliminated.

Baker testified that the notion of killing off Britt did not come until Dec. 2, months after the alleged battery. She said Cherry announced the move to writers in a closed door meeting.

Under cross examination, the defense asked Baker about a possible ulterior motive in testifying. Baker was not hired for season six. After Britt died and Sheridan's contract was not renewed, Baker's role as a head writer was over too.

Disney is the parent company of the show's production company, Touchstone Television Productions, and ABC7.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.