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Cherry said he never wavered in his decision to kill off Sheridan’s role, but that he acquiesced to requests by the executives to wait until later in the season for the on-screen killing to occur. The notes displayed Wednesday showed Britt’s death was originally slated for mid-season, with several episodes dealing with a police investigation.

He said the coded phrase “Steve drinks OJ” was necessary to keep the secret from people passing through the writers’ room where “Housewives” scripts are contemplated and crafted.

“Mine is a series based on surprise and shock and secrets,” Cherry said.

Britt died in the 18th episode of the season after surviving a strangulation attempt and a car crash, only to be electrocuted by a downed power line. Baute, in opening statements, called it a triple homicide that reflected Cherry’s animosity toward Sheridan.

“Desperate Housewives,” a glossy prime-time comedy/soap opera with an ensemble cast including Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria, made a pop-culture and ratings splash when it premiered in 2004 but has seen its audience dwindle. It is in its last season.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP