Prosecutors question PCA manager for third full day - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Prosecutors question PCA manager for third full day

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More emails, showing that Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped products with positive test results.

Prosecutors have been questioning Samuel Lightsey for 18 hours and it looks like it could be a while longer as they take their time with a star witness.

One federal defense attorney says it's important to keep the jury engaged during these long testimonies.

Former owner Stewart Parnell, His brother Michael Parnell and quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson face 76 charges stemming from a 2008 Salmonella outbreak that killed nine and sickened hundreds more.

The government has taken their time presenting evidence and documents. Federal defense lawyer Charlie Peeler says that's necessary for the government's high burden of proof.

"For the government to prevail in the case, the government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt not only that these things occurred but that the individuals who are charged intended for these things to occur," said Peeler.

Samuel Lightsey pleaded guilty in May for his role and says that PCA tested lots and used the results sometimes 12 days later for other products.

Prosecutors walked jurors through several documents to back up this claim made by Lightsey, something Peeler says you have to be careful about.

"You kind of have to walk a fine line. Because it's important for the lawyers to get into evidence what they need to rely on their case but at the same time, successful lawyers will tell a story," said Peeler.

Prosecutors also brought up emails that show Stewart Parnell telling Lightsey to "turn loose" products that previously had a positive test result. Even with hard evidence and a paper trail, Defense lawyers will still be working to discredit that.

"Skilled defense council will have an opportunity to cross examine the witnesses who are testifying about the documents and to really bring out those details that either cast doubt on a document or place a document that really says one thing in context."

Lawyers for these three defendants will get their chance, whenever the government finishes with Lightsey. Prosecutors are working through documents that prove PCA had a thought-out system to produce and ship product to Kellogg's without really testing the products.

Lightsey testifies that he doesn't know of anyone at PCA that notified Kellogg's if tests came back abnormal.

The former plant manager will take the stand again in the morning.


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