- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jurors in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination case heard a set worker Tuesday describe an email he believed called for the destruction of files related to the firing of the actress from the hit show “Desperate Housewives.”

Construction coordinator Michael Reinhart took the witness stand over the objections of an attorney for series creator Marc Cherry and ABC, who suggested Reinhart might have been confused and misread the message.

Reinhart said he immediately deleted the message and believed it had been mistakenly sent to him after Sheridan sued in 2010.

He recalled that it contained the words “delete” “hard drive” and “Nicollette Sheridan,” but he could remember few other details. He said it made him uncomfortable and he tried to forget it but couldn’t.

He said he called Sheridan’s attorney Mark Baute on Sunday because he wanted both sides to have all the information.

“It started gnawing at me,” Reinhart said. “I began to lose sleep over it.”

Baute has accused Cherry and ABC officials of engaging in a conspiracy to make it appear the decision to fire Sheridan had been made months before an on-set dispute between the actress and Cherry in September 2008.

Sheridan claims Cherry struck her hard on her left temple during the argument, but the veteran TV writer maintains he tapped her to give her artistic direction.

The trial is in its final days and closing arguments had been expected Tuesday. A request by ABC attorney Adam Levin to delay the case for a forensic examination of Reinhart’s hard drive was denied. Still, the set worker’s testimony could prolong the trial.

Levin also said Baute apparently promised to find Reinhart work if he was fired for testifying in the case. Reinhart said he felt he was performing “professional suicide” by coming forward.

Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White said Sheridan’s attorneys did not invite the problems that Reinhart’s disclosure caused, and she felt the jury should determine how much weight to give his testimony.

Reinhart’s phone call Sunday created the latest twist in Sheridan’s trial, which has featured nine days of testimony so far.

He told jurors that immediately after talking to Baute, he left his home so he couldn’t be served with a subpoena then took his work computer out of his office. He brought the machine in his truck and White ordered him to turn it over to ABC attorneys for an examination.

Reinhart has worked on the series for all of its eight seasons,

Jurors have heard conflicting testimony throughout the case. A writer and co-executive producer said the decision to kill off Sheridan’s role wasn’t made until late 2008 _ after a human resources investigation cleared Cherry of wrongdoing for the on-set dispute.

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