A man who was convicted of killing his wife and shooting the judge overseeing their divorce is trying to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming that his high-profile lawyers coerced him into confessing.
Lawyers for Darren Mack plan to argue in a court hearing today that his previous lawyers, Scott Freeman and David Chesnoff, neglected his case and then pushed him to lie in court.
"I was broken down into believing that the only way I could save my credibility and have the truth help others was to sacrifice myself and go to prison for the rest of my life for acts that my defense team and I always stood firm that I was not guilty of criminal responsibility," Mack wrote in a sworn statement.
Mack stated that he felt like he was "psychologically raped" by his lawyers.
Chesnoff declined to comment on the allegations, saying he would discuss them when he testifies in court. Freeman did not immediately return a call from ABC News, though he has declined to comment to other news outlets. He is also expected to testify in the hearing.
Mack's new attorney, William Routsis, did not immediately return a call for comment, but he has said he would introduce evidence that another of Chesnoff's clients claimed that the well-known attorney pressured him to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit in an earlier case.
In that case, a year after Michael Nikols pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge, he claimed in a sworn statement that his lawyers, including Chesnoff, applied "unprecedented pressure on me to" plead guilty.
"When I stated that the agreement required me to admit to actions that I did not do, [defense counsel] stated that 'sometimes you have to lie to get what you want,'" he wrote.
Those allegations were never tested in court and Nikols' guilty plea was dismissed on other, technical grounds — which Judge Paul Cassell said would probably result in a "quadrupling of his prison time" after a trial, since the government appeared to have an "overwhelming case" against Nikols.
Cassell added that Nikols "has had some of the best possible defense attorneys advising him along the way."
Chesnoff is a widely respected former director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has represented such notable clients as Mike Tyson, Martha Stewart and David Copperfield.
Prosecutors claim that Mack stabbed his estranged wife, Charla, to death in June 2006 inside his townhouse and then drove to a downtown Reno parking garage where he shot local Family Court Judge Chuck Weller through the window of the judge's chambers. Weller, who presided over the Macks' bitter divorce and custody fight, survived. Mack claimed that he acted in self defense, after his wife attacked him.
After initially pleading not guilty, Mack changed his plea in the middle of his trial. He pleaded guilty in November to killing his wife. He entered an Alford plea to attempted murder, meaning he admitted shooting Weller and admitted that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him, but did not admit to having the intent to kill necessary to be convicted of the crime.
At the time of the plea, prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence of life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 20 years. If he goes to trial on the current charges, he faces a sentence of life with no possibility of parole.
At the time, Mack said no one had coerced him into pleading guilty and went on to thank the judge, saying "it has been a privilege to watch due process in action."
In his latest court filings, Mack claims that Chesnoff and Freeman assured him he would win, only telling him to plead guilty after they had been paid their fee. Mack said his will was worn down because of dehydration, heat exhaustion, back pain and lack of blood sugar. He also claims that his lawyers forged his signature on his plea agreement.
"They sold him down the river," Mack's brother, Landon Mack, told ABC News.
Darren Mack's girlfriend, Alecia Biddison, said, "We feel very strongly that there is overwhelming evidence that should grant Darren a new trial."
Prosecutors in court filings called Mack's latest allegations "bizarre," saying they are irrelevant to whether his guilty plea was valid.
"There is nothing in the record to show that the defendant was coerced or tricked into pleading guilty by a promise of leniency," prosecutor Christopher Lalli wrote. "He understood all the consequences of that plea."
The court hearing is expected to last through the end of the week.