Defense gets a chance to question former PCA plant manager - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Defense gets a chance to question former PCA plant manager

Michael Parnell, right, leaves court with his attorney Ed Tolley, left. Michael Parnell, right, leaves court with his attorney Ed Tolley, left.
Stewart Parnell's lawyer, Tom Bondurant addresses jury Stewart Parnell's lawyer, Tom Bondurant addresses jury
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Defense lawyers finally got their turn to question former PCA plant manager Samuel Lightsey after 7 days of questioning by the government.

Lightsey's testimony is considered to be very important in the federal government's case.

Attorneys for the three defendants are looking to discredit his testimony because he is on the witness stand as part of a plea deal he made with the government.

Lightsey pleaded guilty in May to 7 criminal counts for his role in a deadly salmonella outbreak traced to a peanut plant in Blakely.

Former owner Stewart Parnell, his brother Michael Parnell, and quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson are on trial now.

Stewart Parnell's attorney, Tom Bondurant, presented three independent audits that all showed superior ratings for the PCA plant in Blakely.

His lawyers also said several emails federal prosecutors presented last week actually prove Stewart Parnell was concerned with the safety of the company's products.

The 3 positive tests Lightsey previously testified about during his time at PCA were all retested 60 times. Lightsey said every one of those retests came back negative.

Bondurant also brought up Lightsey's plea agreement with the federal government. He said Lightsey was facing over 30 years in prison but he could walk free with his substantial help in the prosecution of others.

Bondurant also said it was Lightsey's responsibility to make sure the plant was kept in a safe and sanitary condition.

Michael Parnell's lawyer says the younger Parnell was simply running an operation that was controlled by Kellogg's, and they were the ones who ordered the shipping schedule.

It was an issue prosecutors focused heavily on in the 7 days of questioning.

Mary Wilkerson's attorney showed jurors a 50-minute video tour of the plant and pointed out that it looked to be in good shape.

Lightsey says that Wilkerson was very helpful in recalling products and closing down the Blakely facility.

Her lawyer, Tom Ledford, will continue his questioning in the morning.

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